- Associated Press - Thursday, May 26, 2011

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A second day of powerful storms roared through middle America on Wednesday, with weak tornadoes touching down in isolated spots and severe thunderstorms threatening such strikes in several states.

The National Weather Service issued tornado watches and a series of warnings in a dozen states, stretching northwest from Texas though the Mississippi River Valley to Ohio.

“Everybody’s working as fast and furious as possible,” said Beverly Poole, the chief meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s office in Paducah, Ky., which covers southeastern Missouri and southern Illinois. “This is just a wild ride.”

There were no immediate reports of any serious injuries or deaths from Wednesday’s storms.

They followed a deadly outbreak Tuesday in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas that killed at least 15 people. The nation’s single deadliest tornado since 1950 killed 125 on Sunday in the southwest Missouri city of Joplin.

Joplin city officials plan to release the names of the people killed “as soon as we can.” City Manager Mark Rohr told reporters Wednesday evening that at least 900 people were injured.

He added that a third day of search-and-rescue efforts had not found any new survivors amid the debris, but the effort will continue.

Wednesday’s heavy rain, hail and lightning pounded Memphis, Tenn., during the night as a tornado warning sounded. Menacing clouds showed some rotation, but there were no confirmed reports of tornadoes touching down.

Law enforcement agencies reported one home destroyed late Wednesday afternoon in the rural Carter County town of Ellsinore, Mo., about 150 miles south of St. Louis. Earlier in the day, a tornado cut through the city of Sedalia about an hour later and damaged several homes and businesses, Pettis County Sheriff Kevin Bond said.

“Considering the destruction that occurred in Joplin being that we’re in tornado alley and Sedalia has historically been hit by tornadoes in the past I think people headed that warning,” Sheriff Bond said. “And so, I think that helped tremendously.”

In Illinois, high wind, rain and at least four possible tornadoes knocked down power lines and damaged at least one home and a number of farm buildings across the central and eastern parts of the state.

“Mostly it was shingles off roofs and garages,” said Illinois Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Patti Thompson.

The storms damaged buildings, toppled trees and cut power to thousands in Indiana, where the National Weather Service said baseball-sized hail and wind gusts of up to 70 mph were reported in Greensburg, 60 miles southeast of Indianapolis. Duke Energy reported nearly 10,000 residents without power in the state early Wednesday evening.

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