Strong storms advance on South, Midwest

By Ralph Ellis

Powerful storms that damaged homes and businesses in Texas and the central United States moved east Friday, threatening a wide swath from the Gulf Coast north to the upper Ohio Valley, the National Weather Service reported.

In Memphis, Tennessee, early-morning storms knocked out power to 3,495 Memphis Light, Gas and Water customers, CNN affiliate WMCTV reported. Most customers had power restored in a few hours, the station said.

Heavy rain caused flooding that closed parts of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, CNN affiliate WEWS-TV in Cleveland reported.

The weather service issued a wind advisory for parts of Indiana and a flood warning for central Indiana, with both expected to end Friday night.

The main threat will be thunderstorms with straight-line winds and hail, the weather service said. Heavy rain is possible throughout the area as well as in the Northeast.

In Birmingham, Alabama, and Jackson, Mississippi, the chance of thunderstorms is 100% before 1 p.m., with storms tapering off the rest of the day. A drenching thunderstorm also was predicted for Cleveland and Cincinnati. In Atlanta, there's a 60% chance of thundershowers Friday and Friday night.

On Friday morning, no twisters had been spotted in the South and Midwest.

In Texas and Missouri on Thursday night, people were cleaning up damage caused by the storms and, in some cases, tornadoes.

Authorities say a tornado touched down Thursday night in Hopkins County, Texas, causing serious damage to homes and businesses such as the Burger Barn Restaurant and Joe Bob's Gas Station, according to CNN affiliate KTVT-TV.

The tornado reportedly touched down near Birthright, just north of Sulphur Springs. The storm also knocked down the local water tower.

A tornado was spotted on the ground Thursday night 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.

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.

St. Louis residents 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 mph.

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.

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