Storms packing high winds cause damage in Indiana, Arkansas

Severe storms with high winds, hail and possible tornadoes swept across the Midwest and caused damage to dozens of homes and businesses in parts of Indiana and Arkansas, authorities said.

A few injuries were reported following Wednesday night’s storms and the threat of more severe weather was forecast for the coming days throughout much of the United States.

In the central Indiana community of Mooresville, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) southwest of Indianapolis, bricks were scattered along the town’s main downtown thoroughfare and traffic was blocked by debris. Police Officer Brock A. Chipman told WISH-TV that the storm knocked the second story off a two-story vacant building, and one woman was slightly injured after power lines fell on her car.

Indiana’s stay-at-home order amid the coronavirus pandemic likely kept people out of danger as the storms moved through, tearing roofs off some buildings and damaging downtown storefronts, said Division Chief John Robinson of the Mooresville Fire Department.

"We have some small restaurants downtown here and folks would be in those under normal circumstances. Luckily, because of the virus everyone was gone. Honestly, that’s sort of a blessing," Robinson told WXIN-TV.

More than 100,000 utility customers in Indiana lost power following the storms across central and southern Indiana. About 62,000 remained without power as of 7:30 a.m. Thursday, with Duke Energy reporting 47,000 lingering outages and Indianapolis Power & Light with more than 14,000.

The National Weather Service in Indianapolis said it planned to work with emergency managers on Thursday to determine the need for any storm surveys. Storm damage also was reported in the central Indiana community of Whiteland, as well as elsewhere in the state.

In the Arkansas town of Harrisburg, about 105 miles (170 kilometers) northeast of Little Rock, more than 30 homes were damaged in Poinsett County and two people were injured, Jonesboro TV station KAIT reported. Officials were working to confirm whether a tornado caused the damage.

The area hit by the storms is about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of Jonesboro, which was struck last month by an EF3 tornado.

Thousands of utility customers in Pennsylvania remained without power Thursday, a day after severe thunderstorms spawned two small tornadoes. Those storms, which came through Wednesday morning, tore the roofs off of a church and a brewery in New Kensington and blew away a hangar at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport.

Severe thunderstorms that roared through Ohio on Tuesday and into early Wednesday spawned three tornadoes. No injuries were reported, but the storms caused property damage across the state.

A stormy stretch of weather is predicted in the coming days. On Thursday, parts of the Texas Hill Country could see large hail and strong storms, while damaging wind gusts are possible in Washington, D.C., and New York City, the Storm Prediction Center said.

Forecasters also warned of a severe weather outbreak with the possibility of strong, long-track tornadoes on Easter Sunday in parts of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi.