A violent tornado slammed into Jefferson City, Missouri, late Wednesday evening, leaving at least three people dead as severe weather swept through that part of the state, authorities said.
At least twenty people were injured in Jefferson City, with no deaths reported there, according to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson. The three people killed lived in Golden City, which is located about 160 miles southwest of the capital.
"Those are the only three [deaths] we know of at this time," Gov. Mike Parson said at a news conference Thursday morning. "There's nobody missing that we know of ... that's a good thing."
Witnesses described the tornado as feeling "like an earthquake" when it hit Jefferson City shortly before midnight. The National Weather Service reports the tornado's funnel was wider than its height and debris was sent as high as 13,000 feet into the air. Buildings were ripped apart with trees and power lines torn out of the ground, leaving many parts of the city without power.
"There was a lot of debris flying, we had trees [flying]," said Jefferson City Police Department Lt. David Williams, describing what caused the injuries. "At this point, nothing in the serious [injury] declaration, as I've been told by emergency services."
Tornado sirens alerted the 42,000 residents in Jefferson City at 11:10 p.m. Wednesday night. Damage was first reported in Cole County about 20 minutes later, authorities said.
Severe weather has been forecast for the area over the last week, with tornadoes, rain, flash floods and hail all reported in Missouri and Oklahoma. A total of 171 tornadoes have been reported to the National Weather Service since Friday. At least seven people in three states have been killed due to the storms passing through the region.
The danger isn't over yet - more storms are due to cross the Plains on Thursday which could spawn tornadoes from Lubbock, Texas, to Kansas City and from Columbus, Ohio to Philadelphia, CNN reports.