Severe tornadoes have hit several areas in the Midwest and South, causing significant damage in Missouri and Kentucky.

A severe tornado hit southeastern Missouri on Wednesday morning, resulting in five fatalities. Later in the evening, another tornado struck the area of Louisville, Kentucky.

In southeastern Missouri, a devastating tornado swept through on Wednesday morning, causing widespread destruction and claiming the lives of at least five people as officials warned of potential additional tornadoes.

The tornado hit Bollinger County before sunrise, prompting emergency responders to search frantically for injured individuals trapped under debris, according to authorities.

Bollinger County Sheriff Casey A. Graham confirmed five fatalities in a statement, saying, “It’s with great regret that I can confirm five fatalities.”

Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Clark Parrott stated in the early afternoon to NBC News that officials are optimistic that the death toll will not increase, but noted that the damage is extensive and heartbreaking to witness.

A tornado wreaked havoc in southeastern Missouri on Wednesday morning, resulting in at least five fatalities and extensive destruction. The twister hit Bollinger County, triggering a frantic search for survivors by first responders. Bollinger County Sheriff Casey A. Graham confirmed the fatalities and expressed regret in a statement. In the afternoon, another tornado tore through the Louisville area in Kentucky, causing significant damage and a possible death. National Weather Service meteorologist John Gordon stated that the tornado struck Newburg, just south of downtown Louisville, with winds of 90 mph and a width likely spanning a football field. The Missouri tornado was assessed as a high-end EF2 by the agency, with estimated peak wind speeds of 130 mph. 87 buildings were damaged, with 12 destroyed, and five people were injured, according to Missouri State Highway Patrol Superintendent Eric Olson.

Despite the extensive damage to his house, Joshua Wells considers himself lucky compared to others affected by the tornado.

“It’s been a nightmare,” Wells said. “Our roof was partially gone and one of the exterior walls has caved in a bit, so we can’t really live there. But compared to other houses, ours is not the worst. Some houses have entire walls missing, and some buildings have been completely destroyed down to the foundation.”

First responders are working to find injured survivors in the area hit by the tornado in southeastern Missouri. The highway patrol has urged people to stay away from the area. The Storm Prediction Center has warned of severe weather in parts of the Ohio River Valley, including possible tornadoes, damaging winds, and large hail. Other states, including Iowa and Illinois, also reported severe weather on Tuesday night. A tornado that hit southern Iowa was classified as a high-end EF-1, while a tornado with an EF3 rating struck an area southwest of Peoria, injuring four people. There have been at least 478 tornado reports across 25 states this year, causing at least 63 deaths, excluding those in southeastern Missouri. The average number of tornado-related deaths in a year is 71.

Additionally, the NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center issued a warning for parts of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi on Wednesday, saying there is a moderate risk of severe weather including strong tornadoes, damaging winds, and hail.

The increased frequency of tornadoes this year has been attributed to the La Niña weather pattern, which can lead to more severe weather in the southern United States. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted that the La Niña pattern will continue through the spring, increasing the likelihood of more severe weather and tornadoes in the coming months.

As the communities affected by the recent tornadoes begin to recover, authorities are urging people to stay vigilant and heed warnings from local officials about severe weather.

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