Tornadoes, floods hit Illinois

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Friday, February 21, 2014 - 9:00am

Severe storms including tornadoes struck Illinois late Thursday afternoon, knocking out power, damaging buildings and spawning floods, the National Weather Service reported.

On Thursday night, storms and high winds swept across Tennessee on Thursday night, pelting Nashville with rain and hail and putting thousands in the dark.

Large sections of the Midwest and South were under tornado watches Thursday evening as powerful and fast-moving storms pushed through the region, with flooding and building damage in Illinois.

The Weather Service had preliminary reports of as many as eight tornadoes in central Illinois late Thursday afternoon. In the town of Mechanicsburg, seven outbuildings were reported destroyed and one house had minor damage. WICS TV, a CNN affiliate in nearby Springfield, reported that one camper was knocked over and the woman in it slightly injured.

About 24,000 people in Illinois lost power at one point Thursday afternoon and night, reported utility Ameren Illinois.

Effingham and Champaign counties in Illinois reported flooding but no injuries or water rescues.

"We have some power lines down and a little water in the road in some places," said Pam Jacobs, the director of the Effingham County Emergency Management Agency. She said they had no reports of injuries or stranded vehicles.

John Dwyer, the emergency management coordinator for Champaign County, reported some road flooding and standing water in farm fields. A portion of State Route 150 between Mohamet and the county line was shut down.

He said the flooding was caused by the 3 inches of rain Thursday coupled with the snow melt. The National Weather service said radar indicated rainfall of 3 to 4 inches per hour.

A flash-flood warning was issued until 11:30 p.m. CT Thursday for the area.

The Illinois State Police reported that fog caused a serious wreck on Interstate 57 in northeast Illinois, involving at least 27 tractor trailers and passenger cars. Authorities said they received reports of multiple injuries, but nothing life-threatening.

In Tennessee, Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division reported that 4,450 customers lost power at the peak of outages in Shelby County, Tennessee, which includes the city of Memphis.

As the storm moved east across Tennessee, winds knocked down dozens of trees in Nashville, reported CNN affiliate WSMV. The station said trained weather spotters reported 1-inch hail and 95 mph winds.

Tornado and severe thunderstorm watches were in effect for a large area of the south-central United States, including much of Kentucky and Indiana, as well as Illinois, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

No reports of injuries or deaths were available Thursday evening.

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