LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A powerful storm system swept across the country from Texas to Alabama on Monday, killing at least two people and injuring several others, emergency officials said.
A tornado that touched down near Ashdown, about 150 miles southwest of Little Rock, killed a man and injured his wife when their home was destroyed early Monday, according to meteorologist Joe Goudsward with the weather service in Little Rock.
Goudsward said that tornado was an EF2 on a scale that rates twisters from EF0 to EF5, Goudsward said. A second one, near England, about 30 miles southeast of Little Rock, was rated an EF1, meaning it was less powerful than the other one.
Two tornadoes also touched down in Missouri on Monday morning, causing some roof damage and toppling trees, according to the National Weather Service. In Alabama, a tree fell on a mobile home about 25 miles northwest of Birmingham, killing a 75-year-old woman and injuring her husband, said Walker County Coroner J.C. Poe.
In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency Monday as the severe weather moved across his state, downing trees and power lines and leaving thousands without electricity.
And in Texas, lightning was suspected in a fire that set ablaze an oil well site near Longview, while downed trees were reported in parts of northern Louisiana.
University of Louisiana at Monroe spokeswoman Kiwana Sutton says several downed trees prompted officials to cancel all classes and shutter the campus until Tuesday morning. Schools in several states canceled evening activities and delayed classes Tuesday.
The Storm Prediction Center estimated that more than 36 million people were in the path of damaging winds, possible tornadoes and heavy rainfall Monday, with the greatest risk for severe weather along the Mississippi River from extreme southern Illinois to northern Louisiana. Cities at risk for the nasty weather included Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee; Houston; Indianapolis; New Orleans and St. Louis. Widespread flash flooding was also expected in many areas as the storms dump heavy rainfall in a short period of time.
The soggy weather led to the postponement of Game 3 of the American League Championship Series in Kansas City, between the Royals and the Baltimore Orioles. It also delayed Monday's opening time of the Arkansas State Fair in Little Rock, which has seen dismal attendance numbers in its first three days because of the rain.
Late Sunday, damaging winds knocked out electricity and overturned trucks on Interstate 40 in western Oklahoma as powerful thunderstorms came through the state. A portion of the interstate in Oklahoma was shut down briefly on Monday morning so crews could clear a downed power line, but it was reopened by midday.