A weather system that moved across the Midwest and eastern US created damaging tornadoes and left massive flooding in its wake. The storms are moving into the Atlantic Ocean.
Storms ravaged the Midwestern and southern states over the weekend and continued to the eastern seaboard on Monday. The storms left at least 16 people dead and three people missing.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is responsible for issuing severe weather warnings across the US, said there were 769 preliminary reports of severe weather from Saturday to Monday as of 0300 UTC. The reports include 30 reports of tornadoes from Texas to Illinois and Mississippi on Saturday and Sunday.
The storms were pushing through the eastern US on Monday and the threat for severe weather was expected to pass by the end of the evening.
Flooding causing trouble
Missouri was hit particularly hard by the severe weather. Some parts of the state saw a 30 centimeters (1 foot) of rain, forcing residents to put sandbags next to overflowing rivers.
The Mississippi River was above flood stage at many points. The Cape Girardeau point of the river is expected to crest within about 15 centimeters of its all-time record 14.9 meters. Flood warnings are in effect across much of the state.
The flooding killed three adults in Missouri. The Missouri State Emergency Management Agency said they counted 143 water rescues, but acknowledged there were likely more that were not reported.
There were six deaths in Arkansas related to the storm. A kayaker was found on Monday after he went missing near Little Rock. A fire chief was killed when he was struck by a vehicle while at work during the storm. There are two children and their mother still missing after their truck was swept off a bridge 209 kilometers (130 miles) northwest of Little Rock.
Tornadoes killed four people in Texas on Friday, and storms killed two in Mississippi and a two-year old girl in Tennessee.
One last snowstorm
On the tail end of the system, a late season snowstorm dropped up to 50 centimeters of powder in western Kansas, along with winds up to 90 kph (60 mph). The National Guard was called at least 40 times to rescue stranded drivers in the state. Snow is still on the ground in western Kansas, according to chief meteorologist Matt Miller for local television station KSNT.
Spring is the primary time of year for severe weather in the central US, which is commonly referred to as "Tornado Alley." The US is hit by an average of more than 1,000 tornadoes per year, according to NOAA.
kbd/se (AP, dpa)