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At least 19 tornadoes touched down from Texas to Minnesota as part of large band of severe weather moving across the Plains states Saturday night. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
More than 20 million Americans are under the threat of severe weather, including heavy rain, large hail and thunderstorms with strong wind gusts, Weather Channel meteorologist Kelly Cass reported. Moisture being pulled north from the Gulf of Mexico was increasing the chances of tornadoes as Saturday night turned into Sunday morning.
The severe weather damaged homes, and downed power lines and entire barns across the Plains states. Thirty-four cars of a cargo train derailed and toppled over in Lyon County, Kansas, after stopping because of the severe weather, Sheriff's Deputy Jacob Welsh said.
And weather interrupted a high school prom in Tecumseh, Oklahoma, where students were forced off the dance floor and into hallways because of a possible tornado.
Nearly 12,000 homes and business across Oklahoma and about 3,000 in eastern Kansas and western Missouri were without power Saturday night.
Parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri were under tornado watches into Sunday morning.
A tornado watch is in effect until 3 a.m. Central Time for much of eastern Oklahoma, according to the National Weather Service. Northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri were also under tornado watches into the morning, and the threat shifts east on Sunday to parts of Arkansas, eastern Missouri Illinois, and other areas.
Repeated heavy rain in the Plains could also cause flooding throughout the weekend.
Nineteen tornadoes were reported as of 10:00 p.m. CT, the Weather Channel reported, including six in Oklahoma, six in Minnesota, five in Texas, and one each in Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming. Very large hail was also seen around Texas Saturday afternoon, including tennis ball-sized hail east of Happy, Texas, just after 2:30 p.m. local time.
The warning followed a relatively quiet night for most of the region, Michael Palmer, the Weather Channel's lead forecaster, said.
In contrast, the Eastern Seaboard looked set for a balmy if not outright steamy weekend, with temperatures hitting highs in the 80s and even the low 90s in some southern states.
The summer-like weather would be interrupted for some, with isolated thunderstorms likely soaking some of the warmer areas in the afternoon and evening, Palmer added.