By Kelly P. Kissel
A tornado hit a nursing home in Ottawa on Tuesday, causing bumps and bruises but no serious injuries, as a spring-like storm churned across the Midwest and posed a risk of more bad weather for 44 million people.
Hail fell so thick in southern Missouri that motorists had to pull over and stop, while another rotating storm crossed a busy interstate highway near Little Rock at the end of rush hour.
Forecasters were particularly concerned that the bad weather would continue overnight and hit communities while people slept. The Storm Prediction Center cautioned that 44 million people from Arkansas to Ohio faced some risk, and that the area from the Missouri Bootheel into Indiana faced a “moderate risk” for severe weather. The instability from competing storms was expected to merge there later Tuesday.
A twister hit the LaSalle County Nursing Home in Ottawa in central Illinois. A woman answering the telephone at the nursing home said several residents reported bumps and bruises but no serious injuries. Trees and power lines were also down in the area.
A wall cloud lowered near Mayflower, Arkansas, which was hit in 2014 by a tornado with winds approaching 200 mph. The storm crossed Interstate 30 between Little Rock and Conway, but there were no immediate reports that a funnel cloud touched down.
Drivers stopped along U.S. 60 east of Springfield, Missouri, according to the Wright County Sheriff’s Office. Reports filed with the National Weather Service said the thunderstorm dropped hail the size of half-dollars.
The greatest risk for strong twisters was in an area from Poplar Bluff, Missouri, to Louisville, Kentucky, though the area from Arkansas to Ohio would also be affected. Forecaster Ariel Cohen, who raised Tuesday’s threat level in a midday update, said sunshine warmed the region and roiled the atmosphere ahead of an approaching cold front.
The threat is expected to shift into the southeastern states Wednesday.
Photo: A tornado tears across farmland near Washburn, about 15 miles northeast of Peoria.