1 dead in Arkansas, roof collapses at Illinois Amazon facility as severe weather strikes parts of U.S.

One person died in Arkansas and injuries were reported in Illinois after the roof of an Amazon facility collapsed as possible tornadoes and severe weather hit parts of the U.S. on Friday night.

In Monette, Arkansas, one person was dead and five were seriously injured when an apparent tornado struck the Monette Manor Nursing Home, Craighead County Judge Marvin Day said. He initially said two people had died.

Authorities have cleared the building and no one else was reported to be trapped, he said.

A major emergency response was underway at an Amazon facility in Edwardsville, Illinois, outside St. Louis, according to NBC affiliate KSDK of St. Louis.

The roof of the facility collapsed and multiple people have been injured, according to The Associated Press.

An Amazon distribution center is partially collapsed after being hit by a tornado on Dec. 10, 2021 in Edwardsville, Ill.Robert Cohen / St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP

Rebecca Clark, spokeswoman for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, said by email that its operations center was monitoring the situation.

“The State of Illinois stands ready to assist, as needed,” she said. “Right now we ask that residents avoid the area and allow first responders time and space to do their job.”

Amazon spokesperson Richard Rocha said the company was assessing the situation.

“The safety and well-being of our employees and partners is our top priority right now,” he said.

The National Weather Service warned Friday night that “tornadic thunderstorms” were moving from eastern Missouri to Illinois Friday night.

Tornado warnings late Friday covered parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee. Nearly 130,000 utility customers in those five states were without power.

A possible tornado struck in Samburg, Tennessee, where the local fire department was severely damaged, the Obion County Sheriff’s Office said. It wasn’t clear if there were injuries.

The National Weather Service also issued a tornado emergency for Madisonville, Earlington, and Nortonville, Kentucky. Such a designation signifies that “severe threat to human life is imminent,” catastrophic damage is likely, or that there’s reliable information that a tornado touched down.

Strong weather was expected to affect 35 million Americans this weekend, with heavy snow forecast in the Midwest, tornadoes possible in the South, and rain aiming for California.

A low-pressure system over the Central Plains was producing as much as 2 inches of snow an hour in the Minneapolis-St. Paul region Friday night. “Travel will be very difficult,” the weather service tweeted.

That front was expected to strengthen as it moves over the Great Lakes region Saturday and brings with it heavy snowfall and blustery winds, federal forecasters said.

Light snow and strong winds were expected overnight in Chicago, they said. Rain and high winds were forecasted for Detroit, where the National Weather Service warned residents to prepare for possible power outages.

Warm and humid air from the Gulf of Mexico was expected to move north and create thunderstorms with heavy downpours and some flooding in the Mississippi Valley, which includes many states along the Mississippi River, and into the Ohio Valley, on Saturday night.

The National Weather Service office that serves Little Rock tweeted it sought temporary shelter Saturday night “due to radar indicated 70-80 mph winds.”

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Friday told residents to stay alert.

“Folks need to have plans for safely sheltering in place in the event of a tornado, and they need to be prepared in case there are disruptions to local utilities,” he said in a statement.

Warm air was expected to move into the Eastern Seaboard on Saturday, producing record high temperatures for the date in some parts of the Mid-Atlantic, federal forecasters said.

The National Weather Service office that covers New York City said high temperatures in 60s were expected.

But the springlike weather will be short-lived: A cold front was forecasted to “sweep across the entire East Coast” late Saturday, bringing “sharply falling temperatures and sudden onset of blustery winds,” the weather service said in a forecast discussion Friday.

California was preparing for rain and snow as a storm was expected to strike the northern half of the state Saturday and then move south, bringing snow to the Sierra Nevada mountains and even to peaks in Southern California. Rain was forecast from the Bay Area to the border.

Federal forecasters in Oxnard, California, said as much as 2 feet of snow could fall Monday and Tuesday in mountain locations higher than 7,000 feet.

The National Weather Service office that covers Sacramento urged motorists to avoid traveling in the mountains.

The California governor’s Office of Emergency Services said residents up and down the state should prepare for “widespread moderate to heavy rain, mountain snow, gusty winds, and thunderstorms” through at least Tuesday.

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