Nightly News   |  April 26, 2014

South and East Brace for Severe Weather

Six tornados did heavy damage in North Carolina, which forecaster say is just the start of a violent, days-long storm.

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>>> an unusual quiet start to tornado season ended with six tornados doing heavy damage and sending people to hospitals in eastern north carolina . the start of what forecasters say is going to be a very violent, dangerous and potentially daily couple of days from the gulf coast to the midwest. as we come on the air tonight, the risk for severe weather is ramping up from texas to kansas and the potential for deadly tornados only increases and expands as we get into sunday and monday. tonight, with some 32 million americans in the danger zone , officials in several states are warning people to get their tornado plans out and to stay glued to the local forecast. our coverage begins with nbc's janet in houston.

>> reporter: this is how it began.

>> here it goes right here. all right. we got debris right here.

>> reporter: a funnel cloud forming late afternoon in eastern north carolina .

>> there it is there. it's behind the building and on the ground.

>> reporter: today residents surveyed the damage and started the lengthy cleanup process. at least six tornados in the area damaged more than 200 homes and businesses friday. one of the six was the first ef-3 of the season with winds up to 150 miles per hour.

>> the porches are gone. the roofs gone, the siding is gone but i got somewhere to stay, so i'm blessed.

>> reporter: there was heavy hail as violent storms ripped trees from the roots and snapped power lines . 18 people were hurt. it may have been just a warmup after a quiet start, forecasters say the worst outbreak of the season begins tonight.

>> over the next pfew days between now and thursday, we could see more tornados than we've seen all year thus far. not just the number, some tornados could be strong or violent and could turn deadly, so we need you to really pay attention and heed these tornado warnings .

>> reporter: 32 million people are in the path, texas , oklahoma and kansas are in the cross hairs in the next few hours. on sunday, the threat includes arkansas and missouri and then slowly moving east putting millions more at risk. from the lower mississippi , tennessee and lower ohio valleys. in tiny chase, kansas , the weather siren is broken. they are delivering weather radios to the 300 homes and businesses, which sit right in the heart of tornado ally.

>> we're a small town. we don't have a lot of money, so they are doing what they can to keep the community safe, but yet, be as proactive if something happened.

>> reporter: these tornados may touchdown overnight when people are sleeping and you're heavily populated cities. that's why we're getting strong warnings right now. dr. greg forbes says tomorrow in

arkansas, the tor: con level will be an unusually high seven out of eight. we're at risk here in texas and other states as well.

>> thanks. for more on the weather threat, we turn to nbc meteorologist dillon drier, driillon?

>> good evening lester. we have warm air, ten to 15 above average ahead of the cold front but back behind it, temperatures are about 15 to 20 degrees below average and it's that clash that could create very strong storms in red from nebraska right down into eastern texas , even stretching into mississippi. it's in orange and encompassing pretty much all of arkansas where we could see the possibility of a tornado outbreak . into monday, the situation is still the same and it's western tennessee right down into most of mississippi where we could see some of our strongest storms, something we will have to keep an eye on, especially starting sunday afternoon. lester?