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Strong storms, tornadoes barrel through central U.S.

By Greg Botelho, CNN
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Fri April 4, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: There's a slight risk of severe weather for parts of Texas, beyond for Friday
  • Tornadoes are reported in parts of Missouri as well as Texas
  • The threat of twisters continued past sunset in many locales
  • Those states and others, including Oklahoma and Arkansas, also see large hail

(CNN) -- A powerful storm system brought drenching rains, hail and -- in a few cases -- tornadoes to a wide swath of the central United States on Thursday evening, causing damage but no known fatalities.

The National Weather Service reported a number of twisters across several states.

That includes a tornado spotted around 8:16 p.m. (9:16 p.m. ET) on the ground in St. Louis County, Missouri, near Glendale. About an hour earlier, the agency reported a "damaging" twister with quarter-size hail about 50 miles west near Washington. And a tornado was earlier reported in the Osage County community of Rich Fountain.

Tornado rips through St. Louis

It was not immediately clear whether there was any related injuries or damage in any of these Missouri locales.

The weather service also reported twisters Thursday night in the southeastern Missouri community of Doniphan, as well as nearby in Butler County.

Denton County, Texas, sheriff's office spokeswoman Sandi Brackeen said that "a tornado touched down south of Krum." Outbuildings and barns, but no known homes or commercial properties, suffered damage, said county emergency services chief Jody Gonzalez.

"We do have significant hail damage across the county -- downed tree limbs, roof and gutter damage, and busted windows," Gonzalez said, adding that some residents "took pictures of little rope tornadoes that did touch down."

"We do not have any reports of injuries," Gonzalez said.

The weather service hasn't confirmed a Krum touchdown, but it did report one about 45 miles east, around Princeton, that crossed U.S. 380. The agency reported a twister in nearby Farmersville, 30 miles northeast of Dallas.

Storms rolling through Frisco, Texas, north of Dallas, at Dr. Pepper Ballpark for the Double-A baseball home opener for the Frisco Rough Riders against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. The game was postponed in the third inning and will be made up with a double-header on Friday.
Storms rolling through Frisco, Texas, north of Dallas, at Dr. Pepper Ballpark for the Double-A baseball home opener for the Frisco Rough Riders against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. The game was postponed in the third inning and will be made up with a double-header on Friday.

While the threat of tornadoes often dies down when the sun and temperatures go down, that wasn't necessarily the case Thursday.

St. Louis residents actually awoke Thursday to tornado sirens as a cluster of heavy thunderstorms began moving through.

The weather service confirmed a tornado touched down about an hour before sunrise in the St. Louis suburb of University City, gouging a half-mile-by-100-yard path. The weather service gave the tornado an initial rating of EF-1, packing top winds of 112 miles per hour.

The twister knocked down trees and ripped up a gas main in University City, but there were no injuries, University City Mayor Shelley Welsch reported via Twitter. St. Louis County officials said about 100 homes had been damaged.

All day, it wasn't just strong winds that proved a problem.

The national Storm Prediction Center noted reports of large hail falling Thursday in parts of Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Renato Reyes-Gomez sent CNNiReport a picture of golf-ball-size hail in Denton, Texas, saying he cannot recall anything "ever this big."

Authorities in Jefferson County, Missouri, made "a couple of water rescues and evacuated a couple of mobile homes" due to rising waters there tied to flash-flooding reports that first came in around 2:15 p.m, said the county emergency management spokesman Warren Robinson.

While several highways had closed, Robinson didn't know of any significant damage in his eastern Missouri county.

Thursday's spate of tornadoes may have caused some damage and rattled some nerves. But at least it wasn't a repeat of what transpired exactly 40 years earlier, when 148 reported twisters killed 330 people across 13 states.

The Storm Prediction Center is forecasting a slight risk of severe weather -- down from the moderate risk reported earlier -- for along and around the path of Mississippi River, as well as for a large swath of Texas, including Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio.

CNN's AnneClaire Stapleton, Matt Smith, Henry Hanks and Jennifer Moore contributed to this report.

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