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Severe Spring Storm Sets Sights on Mississippi Valley

A spring storm system was forecast to expand into the Mississippi Valley and South on Wednesday.
Image: Storm rolls into Kirkwood
Storms clouds form above the Amtrak Station in Kirkwood, Mo., Tuesday, April 26, 2016.Robert Cohen / St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP

The Mississippi Valley was in the path Wednesday of a powerful spring storm system that was tormenting Texas after battering the Great Plains with baseball-sized hail, high winds and a half-dozen tornadoes.

As the line of storms moved eastward, severe thunderstorm watches were in effect across the Lone Star state all the way up into central Missouri, along with flash flood watches and warnings.

"We have had watches galore for today," said Danielle Banks, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel.

Banks said Dallas and San Antonio, Texas, areas face "particularly dangerous" conditions.

The sprawling system brought five reported twisters across Missouri, Kansas, Indiana and Texas, as well as hail — the largest reportedly the size of a grapefruit — across an arc from Texas all the way to West Virginia, the National Weather Service reported.

Wind gusts of 90 mph and above were recorded in Sherman, Texas, and at Oklahoma's Will Rogers World Airport. Flights appeared to continue largely uninterrupted there, but more than two dozen cancellations were recorded by FlightAware at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on Tuesday.

One of the worst-hit towns was the Checotah, Oklahoma, where high winds brought down trees and damaged homes. All public schools were closed Wednesday.

Image: Uprooted tree in Checotah, Oklahoma
Checotah resident Ryan Killingsworth took a photo of an uprooted tree in his Oklahoma hometown.Ryan Killingsworth

"There's a lot of damage," Ryan Killingsworth, a 26-year-old casino worker, who lives in the town, told NBC News. "There’s a lot of houses around the area where the trees are rooted up and there’s a lot power lines

Storms have been pummeling the Plains states since Sunday, with large hail and a few reports of tornadoes."

The Tulsa Fire Department said it was dealing with downed power lines in Oklahoma's second-largest city, and Oklahoma Gas & Electric said more than 20,000 homes and business were without power, most of which were in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.

The Air Force on Tuesday evacuated planes from McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, and some at Offutt AFB, Nebraska, to protect them from the storms.

Up in New England, there was no repeat Wednesday of the snow that blanketed parts of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine on Tuesday. It was, however, clear and chilly with temperatures struggling to climb into the low 40s, the National Weather Service reported.