The Latest: Illinois activates emergency operations

AP News
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Posted: Feb 28, 2017 8:13 PM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Latest on severe weather expected in the central United States (all times local):

7 p.m.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has activated the state's emergency operations center as local officials reported damage from tornados spawned by a late-winter storm system.

Officials say activation of the State Emergency Operations Center will ensure state agencies are in place to give any assistance needed by those affected by Tuesday's storms.

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.

Patients at the nursing home were evacuated to a nearby school.

Emergency crews have been sent to the Village of Naplate, where several structures were heavily damaged and there were fears people are trapped under the debris.

A tornado watch remained in effect in northern and central Illinois until 10 p.m.

5:55 p.m.

The National Weather Service reports a tornado touched down in central Illinois, spawned from a weather system covering the central part of the nation that is expected to produce severe weather into the evening.

Early reports indicated the tornado caused damage Tuesday afternoon to buildings in Ottawa, located southwest of Chicago. One of the buildings damaged was the LaSalle County Nursing Home.

A woman answering the telephone at the nursing home says several residents reported bumps and bruises, but no serious injuries. Trees and powerlines were also downed in the area.

Jamie Enderelen of the National Weather Service says the tornado was first reported in the southern section of Ottawa and moved northeast, where it dissipated near the town of Morris in Grundy County.

A tornado watch is in effect for central and northern Illinois until 10 p.m.

4:15 p.m.

Tornado watches were posted across a large part of the nation's midsection as forecasters warned of significant foul weather.

The Storm Prediction Center said a several bouts of severe weather were possible Tuesday in an area from Arkansas to Ohio. Nearly 44 million people were warned to be on the lookout for twisters, high winds and hail.

Storms erupted quickly in Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa and Illinois and moved eastward before sunset. There were no immediate reports of injuries or major damage. The threat was expected to last overnight through parts of the Mississippi and Ohio valleys before moving into the southeastern states Wednesday.

Forecasters warned of a "moderate risk" of severe weather, and were especially concerned about the area from Poplar Bluff, Missouri, to Louisville, Kentucky. They expected storm ingredients to merge in the area and trigger tornadoes.

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2:45 p.m.

Forecasters say a large part of the central United States faces an increased risk for significant tornadoes, including some overnight, in a late-winter storm system.

The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, says severe storms could impact 44 million people Tuesday in an area stretching from Arkansas to Ohio. 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 to a "moderate risk" of severe weather, says sunshine was warming the region and roiling the atmosphere.

Also, strong winds would worsen "extremely critical" wildfire conditions in the Texas Panhandle, western Oklahoma and southeastern New Mexico.