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Storms packing high winds cause damage in Indiana, Arkansas

MOORESVILLE, Ind. – 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 36,000 remained without power as of 3 p.m. Thursday, with Duke Energy reporting 25,000 lingering outages and Indianapolis Power & Light more than 11,000.

The National Weather Service in Indianapolis sent a survey crew Thursday to the Mooresville area and other communities to assess storm damage and determine whether there were tornadoes, said meteorologist David Beachler. Among the other places in the state reporting damage was the central Indiana community of Whiteland.

Just outside the Arkansas town of Harrisburg, about 105 miles (170 kilometers) northeast of Little Rock, a tornado spinning winds of about 125 mph touched down Wednesday night near Claypool Reservoir, the National Weather Service confirmed Thursday. The EF2 storm damaged more than 30 homes and injured two people, Jonesboro TV station KAIT reported.

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