Midwest prepares for possible tornadoes as storms move east

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Hail, Rain, Damaging Winds Wreak Havoc On St. Louis

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A broad swath of the Midwest readied for hail, damaging winds and possibly tornadoes Thursday as a strong storm front rumbled through the Plains.

In central Indiana, a 75-year-old woman died Wednesday night after being swept into a rain-swollen creek near Indianapolis. Pittsboro Fire Chief Bill Zeunik said the woman, identified as Doris D. Martin, was clearing debris from a water-filled ditch in her front yard along with her husband when she fell in and was swept away into a drainage pipe. Martin's body was found in a creek nearly a mile away.

A tornado was reported near Peoria, Illinois, on Thursday afternoon but there were no immediate reports of damage.

The National Weather Service's "enhanced risk" area stretched from northeast Texas to Michigan, Wisconsin and across the upper Midwest. Forecasters say Philadelphia, Washington and other parts of the Atlantic coast could see the same weather patterns Friday, including Augusta, Georgia, where the Masters golf tournament is taking place through the weekend.

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Illinois Tornado (April 2015)
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Midwest prepares for possible tornadoes as storms move east

Crews search through the town for unaccounted people the morning after a tornado swept through the town on April 10, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, 11 people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

This Friday, April 10, 2015 aerial image made from video provided by ABC 7 Chicago (WLS-TV) over Fairdale, Ill., shows damage after a tornado blew through the area Thursday evening. The National Weather Service says at least two tornadoes churned through six north-central Illinois counties.

(AP Photo/Courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago (WLS-TV)

Michael West surveys the damage of his mother's home on IL-64 after a tornado swept through the night before, on April 10, 2015 in Rochelle, Illinois.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

Houses and property in ruin the morning after a tornado swept through the town the previous day on April 10, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

This Friday, April 10, 2015 aerial image made from video provided by ABC 7 Chicago (WLS-TV) over Fairdale, Ill., shows damage after a tornado blew through the area Thursday evening. The National Weather Service says at least two tornadoes churned through six north-central Illinois counties.

(AP Photo/Courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago (WLS-TV)

Crews search through the town for unaccounted people the morning after a tornado swept through the town on April 10, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

A semi was knocked on its side while parked behind the restaurant Grubstakers on IL-64 after a tornado came through the previous night, on April 10, 2015 in Rochelle, Illinois.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

Wreckage on IL-64 after a tornado came through the previous night, on April 10, 2015 in Rochelle, Illinois.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

Crews search through the town for unaccounted people the morning after a tornado swept through the town on April 10, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

Metal is wrapped around a tree trunk on IL-64 after a tornado came through the previous night, on April 10, 2015 in Rochelle, Illinois.

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)

FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: A street sign and stop sign lay in wreckage at IL-72 and West Street after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Crews work to clean debris on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
New image of destruction from Fairdale, IL. Photo courtesy: Shane Nicholson, Managing Editor, The Rock River Times http://t.co/J4jg9xeqOP
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Crews work to clean debris on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 10: Crews work on West Street in the early morning hours after a tornado went through the town April 10, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Books lay on the ground on IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Crews search wreckage on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Crews search wreckage on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: A turtle plush on debris on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Crews work to clean debris on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Crews search wreckage on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: People speak to police on West Street as crews work to clean debris after a tornado came through earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Stefanie and Matthew Hurley look at the wreckage on the IL-72 with their family after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Crews work to clean debris on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: An American flag is caught in branches as crews work to clean debris after a tornado came through earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: An American flag is caught in branches as crews work to clean debris after a tornado came through earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
FAIRDALE, IL - APRIL 09: Crews work to clean debris on the IL-72 after a tornado came through the town earlier in the day on April 9, 2015 in Fairdale, Illinois. According to reports, seven people were injured and one person was killed when tornadoes and thunderstorms passed through the northwestern suburbs of Chicago. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
A house is destroyed after a tornado touched down in Fairdale, Ill., on Thursday, April 9, 2015. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Firefighters search for victims as they go door-to-door off Highway 72 after a tornado touched down in Fairdale, Ill., on Thursday, April 9, 2015. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Firefighters search for victims as they go door-to-door off Highway 72 after a tornado touched down in Fairdale, Ill., on Thursday, April 9, 2015. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Officials and residents walk through a street after a tornado touched down in Fairdale, Ill., on Thursday, April 9, 2015. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
Trees are mangled on Highway 72 after a tornado touched down in Fairdale, Ill., on Thursday, April 9, 2015. (John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)
1 dead, heavy damage reported in Fairdale, Illinois http://t.co/YbKG3vRWoG http://t.co/CTmUNMRaQW
What's left of a home in fairdale, il #tornado http://t.co/jUsy7u3jpK
BREAKING: At least 1 dead, many reported missing in Fairdale, just south of Rockford: http://t.co/o7mELPDs69 http://t.co/5Dplp0qj0o
Having difficulty getting access due to damage and debris. http://t.co/amwLnvLOoW
Latest on storm system, including tornadoes, that has caused severe damage in Illinois http://t.co/9J75mVp06F http://t.co/SLCdOSxYZK
UPDATE: 1 dead, 7 injured after tornado rips through northern Illinois town http://t.co/UW5PVLzudL http://t.co/qahDUfe1Z9
VIDEO: "That's going through subdivisions" -- Large tornado tears through Rochelle, IL - [Stephanie Sego Curtis] http://t.co/KBrxqPqwXP
RT @MikeCollierWX: Thanks to Cole Hicks for this picture of the Rochelle, Illinois tornado. http://t.co/3wloX4Mjkd
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 09: Passengers check a departure display at O'Hare International Airport on April 7, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Severe weather and a tornado watch in the Chicago area has prompted the cancellation of over 600 flights at O'Hare International Airport. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 09: Cancelled flights are shown on the departure display at O'Hare International Airport on April 7, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Severe weather and a tornado watch in the Chicago are has prompted the cancellation of over 600 flights at O'Hare International Airport. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
@weatherchannel @JimCantore Mesocyclone with wall cloud/ funnel cloud Morehead KS http://t.co/VcLagJgafx
What!!!!!!
What the hail!!!????
🎶God told Noah to build him and arky, arky...🎶
St Louis storm! #hail
Not sure but I think the apocalypse is fast-approaching #Cincinnati. Scary dark & heavy rain! http://t.co/8rR3ZiHka5
Cincinnati is looking way weird right now http://t.co/QokrZjrqWE
1993 was the last time the streets flooded this bad. #weregonnaneedabiggerboat http://t.co/sKkQXX2ol2
@chesterlampkin In #ellisville it looks like we just got a good snow. http://t.co/fprm3ziCRU
April showers... Large hail...
I bet that hail storm left some nice damage to the roof of my house. http://t.co/e35WLb8TQE
Hail falling in slo-mo! http://t.co/MSvY0WAGTA
Heres a time lapse of the storm in Richmond moving through Garrard. Shows the rotation. @IanOliverWX @Kentuckyweather http://t.co/O73A2FI5EE
National Weather Service assessing damage in Richmond: RICHMOND, Ky. (WTVQ) - The National Weather Service (NWS)… http://t.co/p6OmC01GLO
National Weather Service assessing damage in Richmond http://t.co/004dAUNKYK http://t.co/53to6GKMZC
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"It's quite an expansive area," said Greg Carbin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

In Wisconsin, an interstate north of Milwaukee was closed for several hours Thursday morning after several vehicles became partially submerged in flood water due to heavy rain.

Tornado watches were posted Thursday for northern Illinois - including Chicago - and areas of Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin. Parts of Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas were covered by another tornado watch, and severe thunderstorms were expected in western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma.

The severe weather forced the cancellation of more than 700 flights at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and flight delays of 90 minutes. Another 30 flights were cancelled at the city's Midway International Airport, with delays of up to 45 minutes.

Tornadoes were reported Wednesday and early Thursday in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, but those areas saw minimal damage from the year's first widespread bout of severe weather.

And in Michigan, lightning strikes caused a fire at a mobile home and a fire place explosion, according to authorities. No one was injured in either incident.

By mid-afternoon, temperatures in downtown St. Louis topped 80 degrees under bright sunshine. The balmy burst arrived in stark contrast to temperatures in parts of the northeast; freezing drizzle in New Hampshire delayed some school openings and more than 2 inches of snow postponed the first game of the season for the Portland Sea Dogs in Portland, Maine.

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Follow Alan Scher Zagier on Twitter at http://twitter.com/azagier

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