At least 11 people are dead across four states and dozens have been hospitalized after a tornado outbreak moved through the Midwest and South on Friday night, local officials told reporters.

Dozens of tornadoes were reported across Arkansas, Mississippi, Iowa, Tennessee, Illinois and Wisconsin, but the exact number of confirmed tornadoes has yet to be verified. More than 28 million people across the South and Midwest were under a tornado watch going into Friday night, according to the National Weather Service.

Of the 10 people who died, five died in Arkansas, three died in Indiana, one died in Illinois, one died in Alabama and one died in Mississippi, according to officials.

There were 57 tornado reports across a huge area spanning seven states over the past 24 hours. The number of tornado reports continues to rise as of Saturday morning, as the storm threat is ongoing.

At least one person died and more than 50 people across Pulaski County, Arkansas, have been hospitalized, with that number expected to rise, Madeline Roberts, a spokeswoman for the county’s emergency management agency, told reporters. She did not have information on the conditions of those people.

A car is upturned in a Kroger parking lot after a tornado swept through Little Rock, Ark., March 31, 2023.Andrew Demillo/AP

Four people have also been pronounced dead in the northeastern Arkansas city of Wynne, which took a direct hit from a tornado tonight. Miles Kimble, the coroner of neighboring St. Francis County, who was assisting in Wynne, confirmed the death toll.

A tornado emergency had been issued for metro Little Rock, Arkansas, Friday afternoon, due to the threat of a damaging tornado and quarter-sized hail.

Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said 24 people have been hospitalized and that he is “not aware of any fatalities in Little Rock at this time.”

“Property damage is extensive and we are still responding,” he tweeted.

Capt. Jacob Lear-Sadowsky with the Little Rock Fire Department told reporters earlier there were a “significant” number of injuries from the storm.

One hospital in the area told reporters that it is on standby for a potential “influx of patients” but did not have a number of those admitted yet.

Damage is centered in West Little Rock, where “multiple structures,” both commercial and residential, have been destroyed, Lear-Sadowsky said. Power lines and trees are also downed and cars have been flipped over due to the storm.

The city of Little Rock urged on Twitter that residents should “remain in their homes” so emergency personnel can get to work.

The damaged interior of store after a tornado swept through Little Rock, Ark., Mar. 31, 2023.Andrew Demillo/AP
A home is damaged and trees are down after a tornado swept through Little Rock, Ark., on March 31, 2023.Andrew Demillo/AP
A home is damaged and trees are down after a tornado swept through Little Rock, Ark., on March 31, 2023.Andrew Demillo/AP

As the powerful supercell moved eastward, a “confirmed large and extremely dangerous tornado” was located around 5:13 p.m. local time near Earle, Arkansas, west of Memphis, the NWS said, calling it a “life-threatening situation.” A “catastrophic” tornado also moved through the metro area of Little Rock, Arkansas, the NWS confirmed.

Significant damage is being reported in nearby Wynne, Arkansas, located roughly 50 miles west of Memphis. The city’s mayor, Jennifer Hobbs, told reporters they have experienced “major damage” and that she believes people are trapped but could not estimate a number.

“We’re still trying to get crews out and make sure we don’t have people trapped and continue to assess the damage,” said Hobbs, who said the tornado split the city of more than 8,000 people in half.

“We had no idea that it would be this much damage that we’re seeing right now at this point,” Latricia Woodruff, a spokesperson for the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management, told reporters on Friday about the tornado activity in the state. “There’s a lot of homes that have been damaged, other structures. We heard about a fire station here in Little Rock that had some damage to it as well.”

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders declared a state of emergency due to Friday’s severe weather and activated the National Guard to assist state and local law enforcement. She said there was “significant damage” in central Arkansas due to the storm.

“Arkansans must continue to stay weather aware as storms are continuing to move through,” Sanders tweeted.

The tornado emergencies come as rare high-risk tornado warnings were issued Friday for parts of six states — Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee — as a major storm leaves millions in the Heartland at risk for severe weather, including potentially violent, long-track tornadoes.

A tornado emergency was issued north of Memphis amid multiple severe weather threats for the region. A tornado watch was also issued for parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan until early Saturday morning, as the threat for damaging storms with tornadoes and strong winds continues into the early morning hours.

Among those at risk for tornadoes is an area that was hit by deadly storms last weekend. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visited one of those locations — Rolling Fork, Mississippi — on Friday.

“Jill and I are here to show our support,” Biden said during remarks in the town on Friday, standing amid the destruction. “I know there’s a lot of pain and it’s hard to believe in a moment like this, this community’s going to be rebuilt, and rebuilt back better than it was before.”

Nearly two dozen people were killed in the storms.

In addition to tornadoes, damaging winds and huge hail are possible with Friday’s storms. The expanse of this severe weather stretches from Lufkin, Texas, to Milwaukee and as far east as Nashville, Tennessee and Cincinnati. The storm system moves into the Northeast on Saturday with some severe weather possible for Pennsylvania and upstate New York and even northern New Jersey. Damaging winds will be the biggest threat for the Northeast.

There is a wintry part to this storm, with blizzard warnings issued for South Dakota and Minnesota, where more than half a foot of snow and 45 mph wind gusts are possible. Whiteout conditions are expected. A winter storm warning stretches from Nebraska to Minneapolis and into Wisconsin and Michigan, where more than a foot of snow is possible.

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