At least 17 people have died after a powerful storm system spawning several tornadoes tore through the central and southern states last night with experts warning that another hundred are set to hit the central states this week at the start of tornado season.
Winds ripped houses off their foundations and flipped cars on top of the rubble in the small town of Vilonia in central Arkansas' Faulkner county, one of the worst-hit communities.
Early this morning Arkansas Department of Emergency Management announced the death toll stating the deadly weather had killed seven people in Faulkner County, five people in Pulaski County and one person in White County.
Tornado watches - which means twisters could develop but are not an immediate threat - are in effect for states as far west as New Mexico and as far east as Tennessee and the system produced storms that were moving through the region in waves.
Watches were also issued for Kansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Iowa, Texas and Louisiana. Quapaw was heavily damaged. 'Looks like about half of town got extensive damage as well as the fire department,' Ottawa County Emergency Management director Joe Morgan said.