Violent tornadoes tear across Missouri, killing 3 and leaving extensive damage

Government officials and residents in Missouri began picking up the pieces and assessing the damage on Thursday after a deadly tornado outbreak in the late-night hours ravaged several parts of the state including the capital, Jefferson City.

A large tornado tore through Jefferson City late Wednesday night around 11:45 p.m CDT. The National Weather Service in St. Louis issued a tornado emergency for the area after a 'violent tornado' was confirmed on the ground. First responders worked through the night to begin search and rescue efforts for people who were trapped in collapsed buildings.

Jefferson City Police have confirmed at least 20 citizens were transported to local hospitals.

The Jefferson City tornado was given a preliminary rating of EF3 on Thursday afternoon, meaning it had a peak wind speed of 160 mph.

Three people were killed in Golden City, Missouri, after a tornado moved across the region Wednesday evening, according to The Joplin Globe. A tornadic thunderstorm tracked from Ottawa County, Oklahoma, into Bexter Springs and Galena, Kansas, and then into Carl Junction, Oronogo and Golden City, Missouri.

The victims' identities were released later Thursday morning. Missouri Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. John Lueckenhoff told the Associated Press that the bodies of 86-year-old Kenneth Harris and his 83-year-old wife, Opal, were killed in the storm. Their bodies were reportedly found about 200 yards from their home.

Just west of Golden City, 56-year-old Betty Berg was killed when her mobile home was destroyed. Her husband, Mark, was seriously injured.

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Severe weather in Missouri
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Severe weather in Missouri
This still image taken from video provided by Chris Higgins shows a tornado, Wednesday, May 22, 2019, in Carl Junction, Mo. The tornado caused some damage in the town of Carl Junction, about 4 miles (6.44 kilometers) north of the Joplin airport. (Chris Higgins via AP)
This still image taken from video provided by Shayla Brooks shows a tornado on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, in Carl Junction, Mo. The tornado caused some damage in the town of Carl Junction, about 4 miles (6.44 kilometers) north of the Joplin airport. (Shayla Brooks via AP)
This Tuesday, May 21, 2019 photo released by Missouri State Highway Patrol shows the storm damage from a suspected tornado in Wright County at the Town and Country Supermarket in Hartville, Mo. Forecasters say parts of Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas could see more severe weather Wednesday. (Missouri State Highway Patrol via AP)
Crews begin to replace electric lines across from a tornado damaged home, Tuesday, May 21, 2019, near Mangum, Okla. Dangerous storms left a string of more than 30 tornadoes across the central U.S., damaging homes in Oklahoma, demolishing a racetrack grandstand in Missouri and inundating the region with water over a short period. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
This image made from video provided by KWTV-KOTV shows two funnel clouds formed in Crescent, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2019. An intense storm system that weather forecasters labeled "particularly dangerous" swept through the Southern Plains Monday, spawning a few tornadoes that caused some damage and a deluge of rain but no reports of injuries. (KWTV-KOTV via AP)
A tornado is seen in Magnum, Oklahoma, U.S., May 20, 2019 in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media on May 21, 2019. Dawson Henry/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT.
JEFFERSON CITY, MO - MAY 23: Dirk Sluyter looks in a damaged storage unit on May 23, 2019 in Jefferson City, Missouri. Sluyter was looking for what remained of the boat he had just spent three months restoring. A series of powerful tornadoes killed at least three people in southwestern Missouri causing extensive damage in Jefferson City, the state capital. (Photo by Reed Hoffmann/Getty Images)
JEFFERSON CITY, MO - MAY 23: A truck is seen overturned near the remains of the Donnie Braun and Sons Auto Repair on May 23, 2019 in Jefferson City, Missouri. A tornado tore through the area late Thursday night. A series of powerful tornadoes killed at least three people in southwestern Missouri causing extensive damage in Jefferson City, the state capital. (Photo by Reed Hoffmann/Getty Images)
JEFFERSON CITY, MO - MAY 23: Mediacom employees look for their fiber cable among the wreckage of a Sonic Drive-In on May 23, 2019 in Jefferson City, Missouri. A series of powerful tornadoes killed at least three people in southwestern Missouri causing extensive damage in Jefferson City, the state capital. (Photo by Reed Hoffmann/Getty Images)
JEFFERSON CITY, MO - MAY 23: Trucks are piled on top of each other at Riley Auto Group on May 23, 2019 in Jefferson City, Missouri, after a tornado struck there. A series of powerful tornadoes killed at least three people in southwestern Missouri causing extensive damage in Jefferson City, the state capital. (Photo by Reed Hoffmann/Getty Images)
JEFFERSON CITY, MO - MAY 23: Trucks are piled on top of each other at Riley Auto Group on May 23, 2019 in Jefferson City, Missouri, after a tornado struck there. A series of powerful tornadoes killed at least three people in southwestern Missouri causing extensive damage in Jefferson City, the state capital. (Photo by Reed Hoffmann/Getty Images)
This aerial image shows severe storm damage in Jefferson City, Mo., Thursday, May 23, 2019, after a tornado hit overnight. A tornado tore apart buildings in Missouri's capital city as part of an overnight outbreak of severe weather across the state. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
A car is trapped under the fallen metal roof of the Break Time gas station and convenience store in tornado-hit Jefferson City, MO., Thursday, May 23, 2019. The National Weather Service has confirmed a large and destructive tornado has touched down in Missouri's state capital, causing heavy damage and trapping multiple people in the wreckage of their homes. (AP Photo/David A. Lieb)
Tavaris McClain, left, and Tyree Thompson clear debris to free McClain's mother's car outside her destroyed home Thursday, May 23, 2019 after a tornado tore though Jefferson City, Mo. late Wednesday. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
An uprooted tree rests on a home Thursday, May 23, 2019 after a tornado tore though Jefferson City, Mo. late Wednesday. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
This aerial image shows severe storm damage in Jefferson City, Mo., Thursday, May 23, 2019, after a tornado hit overnight. A tornado tore apart buildings in Missouri's capital city as part of an overnight outbreak of severe weather across the state. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Keith James, center, hurries to move a cabinet out of his house before the roof collapses in the Briarbrook neighborhood of Carl Junction, Mo., on Thursday, May 23, 2019. The National Weather Service says a deadly storm in southeast Kansas and southwest Missouri spawned four tornadoes in roughly 50 miles. Weather Service Meteorologist Mark Burchfield in Springfield, Mo., said Thursday that two of the tornadoes Wednesday night were EF3 tornadoes, including one in Carl Junction, with winds of 140 mph. (Roger Nomer/The Joplin Globe via AP)
The vacancy sign from the Historic Randles Court is blown to the ground Thursday morning, May 23, 2019, in Eldon, Mo. "I heard the sound change and I thought it was a pressure change. But then I came outside and saw what happened," property owner Jennifer Hart said. Hart and her husband rode out the tornado from inside the main office. (Kate Seaman/Missourian via AP)
This still image taken from video provided by Chris Higgins shows a tornado in Carl Junction, Mo., on Wednesday, May 22, 2019. The tornado caused damage in the town about 4 miles (6.44 kilometers) north of the Joplin airport. (Chris Higgins via AP)
Jessica Rodgers pushes a stroller carrying her sister Sophia Rodgers through downed power lines as they head to Rodgers' mother's apartment to check on damage Thursday, May 23, 2019, after a tornado tore though Jefferson City, Mo., late Wednesday, May 22. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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Golden City and Jefferson City are about three hours apart. Golden City is located in southwestern Missouri, while Jefferson City is located farther north in the central part of the state.

Wednesday's round of damaging thunderstorms erupted over the central United States Wednesday night into Thursday, right on the heels of a severe weather outbreak across the region earlier this week. 

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson confirmed damage to state buildings and that power was out in some areas. Parson had previously declared a state of emergency earlier this week due to the repeated rounds of severe weather and the ongoing flood threat.

"Across the state, Missouri’s first responders once again responded quickly and with strong coordination as much of the state dealt with extremely dangerous conditions that left people injured, trapped in homes, and tragically led to the death of three people," Parson said in a Thursday morning press conference.

The governor took an aerial tour of the tornado damage and ongoing flooding Thursday morning which he said has been "devastating" the state.

President Donald Trump issued condolences to those in the affected regions in a tweet Thursday.

"Our hearts go out to the people of Missouri as they woke up to assess the damage from storms. You are strong and resilient, and we are here to assist," Trump tweeted.

Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin issued an updated declaration of emergency that was executed on May 22 and related to the flooding of the Missouri River and its tributaries.

Residents interviewed in the aftermath of the storms described the frightening ordeal as they surveyed damage. "I thought we were dead," resident Larry Jett, of Jefferson City, told Martin Augustine a reporter with KMBC. Jett told Augustine that he and his mother were "picked up off the floor and thrown back down."

Another Jefferson City resident told KMOV that the tornado "felt like an earthquake."

The Red Cross said it has opened a shelter in Jefferson City at Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

Among the agencies responding to the tornado were the Jefferson City Fire Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and Missouri Task Force 1, a specialized urban search and rescue team.

In addition to tornadoes, thunderstorms through Wednesday night brought all modes of severe weather, including flash flooding, destructive hail larger than golf balls and wind gusts over 70 mph.

Threatening storms tracked near the Joplin, Missouri, area, but ultimately didn't leave any extensive damage behind in the city. For Joplin, the risk of damaging storms and tornadoes came on the anniversary of the devastating EF5 that tore through the city in 2011.

Since Monday, there have been nearly 100 tornado reports across the Central states and the threat will continue on Thursday and Friday. Over 30 were reported Wednesday.

The three fatalities in Missouri bring the death toll of the severe weather outbreak up to seven. 

Two people were killed in a traffic accident near Springfield, Missouri, on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. The Missouri Highway Patrol told the AP that heavy rain was a contributing factor in the crash. One fatality was reported in Perkins, Oklahoma, about 45 miles northeast of Oklahoma City, when a motorist drowned on Tuesday after driving around a high water warning barricade and into a flooded roadway, according to emergency management officials.

A tornado-related death was reported in Adair, Iowa, after severe storms ripped through the area early Wednesday. The Adair County Sheriff's office told the AP that emergency responders recovered the body of 74-year-old Linda Brownlee, while 78-year-old Harold Brownlee was flown to a hospital to be treated for injuries. The Adair/Guthrie County Emergency Manager said one building was destroyed and two to three outbuildings were damaged on the farm, located just south of Interstate 80.

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Additional rounds of severe thunderstorms are in the forecast for the central U.S. on Thursday and Friday. This includes a similar area to Wednesday’s storms, extending from Texas to Illinois.

The first tornado on Wednesday was confirmed near Cromwell, Oklahoma, located east of Oklahoma City. Several homes were destroyed in Jay, Oklahoma, after a tornado touched down, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Department of Public Safety. No injuries were reported.

Some parts of the southern Plains have received more than a month’s worth of rain since the weekend. Deadly storms that ripped across Oklahoma and neighboring states earlier this week sparked dozens of reported tornadoes and on Wednesday resulted in devastating floods throughout parts of Oklahoma. Rain from this new round of thunderstorms could cause floodwaters to expand even further, inundating more roads and communities.

“Because multiple storms may move repeatedly over the same locations late this week, flooding will again be a major concern. Some communities may receive another 3 to 6 inches of rain on top of what already fell early this week,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Kyle Elliott said.

Download the free AccuWeather app to keep up to date on the latest severe weather alerts. Keep checking back for updates on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.

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