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More Than 100 Tornadoes Strike Plains States Saturday

Last updated on Sunday, April 15, 2012

(OMAHA, NE) - More than 100 tornadoes were reported across the central United States Saturday afternoon and into the night.

Kansas and Iowa were hit particularly hard, with more tornadoes reported across Nebraska and northwest Oklahoma. Officials at NOAA reported 103 tornadoes in all by midnight Saturday.

A tornado emergency was issued for Wichita, Kansas late Saturday night.

Iowa hospital damaged

Emergency officials say an Iowa hospital has been damaged as a band of severe weather bears down on the region.

Union County Emergency Management Director Jo Anne Duckworth confirmed the Greater Regional Medical Center in Creston had been hit, but did not comment further.

Creston Mayor Warren Woods says a storm swept through the town of about 7,800 residents between 6:30 and 7 p.m. Saturday, damaging the northwest corner of the community. Woods wasn't aware of any injuries, but he also hadn't yet been briefed on the situation at the hospital.

A woman who answered the phone at the hospital said no one was hurt and the staff was working to move patients. It's not clear where they were being taken. Police and fire officials would not immediately comment.

Creston is about 75 miles southwest of Des Moines.

Iowa town severely damaged

Officials say a small western Iowa community has been severely damaged by a possible tornado.

Fremont County Emergency Management Director Mike Crecelius told The Associated Press on Saturday that about 75 percent of the town of Thurman was destroyed.

He said there were no injuries and no deaths in the town of about 250 people.

Crecelius said the town was on lockdown Saturday night and wasn't letting anyone in. He said town officials and residents expect to start cleaning up on Sunday.

Crecelius said some residents had taken refuge in City Hall, which was the only building in town with power. Others were staying in a shelter, at motels or with relatives.

"Dangerous storms" march east

More than a dozen possible tornadoes have been reported in the central and southern Plains as severe storms barrel through the region. There has been some damage.

Most of the twister reports come from Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.

Some areas have been hit with large, damaging hail.

Forecasters are warning residents in the nation's midsection to brace for more "life-threatening" weather.

The most dangerous weather is expected to come later, and National Weather Service officials have issued a stern warning for residents to prepare for overnight storms that could spawn fast-moving tornadoes. Officials say a large area could be at risk.

Storms that hit during the overnight hours can be more dangerous, as residents may not be able to hear tornado sirens in their sleep or aren't monitoring news services as closely. When it's dark, it's also more difficult for weather spotters to clearly see funnel clouds or tornadoes.

Bill Bunting, chief of operations at the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center, says severe weather is possible again tomorrow from east Texas and Arkansas up into the Great Lakes.

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Baseball-sized hail is breaking windows and tearing the siding off homes in northeast Nebraska, and forecasters are warning residents across the nation's midsection to brace for "life threatening" storms.

The National Weather Service says at least three possible tornadoes were reported early Saturday in central Oklahoma, while hail and rain were pelting Nebraska by early afternoon.

No injuries were immediately reported. But forecasters are expecting the most dangerous weather later in the day and are warning residents across the region of possible fast-moving overnight tornadoes.

Officials say a large area spanning from Minnesota to Texas could be at risk.

In Nebraska, Boone County Sheriff David Spiegel says large hail has damaged vehicles, shattered windows and ripped the siding off of houses in and around Petersburg, a town about 140 miles northwest of Omaha.

At least three possible tornadoes are being reported in central Oklahoma hours ahead of what forecasters are cautioning could be a day of "life-threatening" storms.

No injuries were immediately reported after the suspected tornadoes hit early Saturday morning.

Department of Emergency Management official Michelann Ooten says the possible tornadoes were reported west and north of Oklahoma City. One was spotted near Piedmont, a small town where a twister last May killed several people.

The National Weather Service is working to confirm the reports. Weather Service meteorologist Kevin Brown says the storms were fairly weak but still damaged some homes.

The most dangerous weather, however, is expected to develop Saturday afternoon. Officials are warning that a large area spanning from Minnesota to Texas could be at risk.

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