A picture taken from a KFOR helicopter, which was heading to Logan County, Okla., where a possible tornado was forming. Logan County is about 20 miles north of Oklahoma City.
A group of severe thunderstorms spawned scattered tornadoes as it moved through Oklahoma and Arkansas on Thursday, with at least nine people injured in a storm system that cut a broad north-south swath across the central United States.
Thursday brought several tornadoes, most centered in Oklahoma and Arkansas. Tornadoes are likely in many states on Friday as well, with rain in the forecast through Monday in Oklahoma and surrounding states. The Weather Channel's Mike Bettes reports.
Storm spotters reported at least three Oklahoma tornadoes: a large twister in Broken Arrow outside Tulsa, another near Perkins and Ripley and a third northeast of Cove, according to the National Weather Service. Another tornado touched down near Oden, Ark.
Power lines were downed and the roofs of two businesses were damaged in Broken Arrow, but there were no immediate reports of injuries, emergency officials said.
Tornado watches for most of Eastern Oklahoma expired late Thursday, but parts of far eastern Oklahoma and northwestern Arkansas remained under a tornado watch until 4 a.m. Friday.
The National Weather Service issued tornado warnings for numerous counties across both states as the massive weather system heaved large balls of hail, producing heavy rain with possible significant flooding in several areas into Friday.
“To say the least, these storms have been menacing,” said Mike Bettes of The Weather Channel, who reported from Tulsa.
In Lawton, Okla., about 80 miles southwest of Oklahoma City, strong winds knocked down power poles and damaged at least a dozen homes, Comanche County's emergency agency reported. The Red Cross was assisting families who suffered damage.
The storm system also barreled through Arkansas, where a funnel cloud was reported in the small town of Oden. Two people who live on the west side of Oden were hurt when a tornado destroyed their home.
Residents in many other parts of the state were warned to seek shelter from possible tornadoes.
In all, seven people were injured by tornadoes in Arkansas, according to The Associated Press. Two other injuries were attributed to lightning strikes. Lightning was also blamed for a fire at a residential complex in northwestern Indiana.
Severe weather was also possible for other states in the nation's midsection, including Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Early reports indicated that Thursday's tornadoes were much less severe than the EF-5 category storm that leveled parts of Moore, Okla., on May 20 and killed 24 people, including nine children.
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service’s Albany, N.Y., office preliminarily confirmed that an EF-2 tornado with winds up to 125 mph touched down in Montgomery and Schenectady counties in upstate New York shortly before 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
One person was reported to have been injured in the storm, which tore the roofs off many structures and damaged power lines and trees.
No details were immediately available on the injury.
Heavy rain and flooding is likely from the eastern Plains to the lower Great Lakes overnight, weather.com meteorologist Kevin Roth said. The storm system is forecast to move slowly eastward through the weekend.
Areas likely to be worst hit include Minneapolis, which is set for strong evening thunderstorms, and Kansas City, Roth said.
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High winds and heavy rains toppled trees and ripped the roofs off of some buildings in New York Mills, N.Y. WKTV's Nicole Pitt reports.
This story was originally published on Thu May 30, 2013 4:23 PM EDT