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Deadly tornado hits Mississippi as storm system stretches across East

A destructive and massive storm system draped itself across half the country Thursday, from the Gulf Coast to Canada and with a wingspan from Maine to the Dakotas. At least one person was killed in Mississippi, where a tornado touched down.

Authorities in Kemper County, Miss., along the Alabama state line, reported that the storm also caused several injuries and extensive damage and destroyed at least one steel building.

Gov. Phil Bryant offered thoughts and prayers for people in the path of the storm and said that the state was sending help.

By early afternoon, the tornado was moving toward Alabama, and the more heavily populated cities of Birmingham and Tuscaloosa were in the path of the worst of the storm system.

The system, which has disrupted weather all over the country this week, formed a giant T on Thursday. Snow fell in the Dakotas and upstate New York, and ice-slicked roads in Wisconsin. Rain drenched the Ohio Valley and New Orleans.

On Wednesday, the storm system whipped up tornadoes and severe thunderstorms across Missouri and Arkansas, wrecking homes, downing power lines and injuring people in both states.

The St. Louis suburbs were walloped, and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency. The town of Hazelwood reported two tornadoes, and a tree fell on a house there.

While authorities in Arkansas could not confirm a tornado, but three homes were destroyed and more than 50 damaged along with a church. People were trapped inside a house in Lincoln when a tree fell on it.

Van Buren County, in north central Arkansas, was hit hard. More than 30 homes were damaged, six were destroyed, and a fire department was heavily damaged, according to county judge Roger Hooper. Four people were hurt.

The storm made a plaything of an 18-wheeler in Botkinburg, Ark., tossing the truck and damaging a house.

Other parts of the country were hit with a mix of snow and ice, and Gov. Mark Dayton called out the National Guard to help ice-bound Minnesotans. Freezing rain and ice yanked down power lines and tree limbs in Minnesota.

NBC News' Christopher Nelson contributed to this report.


PhotoBlog: Trees toppled, homes destroyed by powerful storms

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