Over a Dozen Tornadoes Are Reported Across Central U.S. Amid Severe Weather Outbreak, Causing Damage and Injuries in Arkansas

A severe storm system struck parts of the southeast on Saturday, producing at least 17 reported tornadoes — including a large one which destroyed businesses and injured six people in Jonesboro, Arkansas. The event was captured on video by several people, with the footage showing the largest tornado rip through the area, throwing debris into the air.

The tornado — which touched down just after 5 p.m. local time — caused significant damage to the Mall at Turtle Creek in Jonesboro. Most stores were closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"At 5 o'clock on a Saturday afternoon that place would've been packed, and at this point there was hardly anyone in there," Jonesboro E-911 Director Jeff Presley told Fox News. "It's a blessing in disguise."

The tornado also caused damage to hangars at Jonesboro Municipal Airport, according to the National Weather Service.

"In the midst of everything, a tornado just went through the heart of town," Arkansas representative Rep. Rick Crawford said. "None of my staff have been hurt and my family are okay. Unsure of others - please pray for first responders now being dispatched."

The severe weather event led to power outages in some parts of the city, which has a population of around 75,000, and debris was reported to be blocking some roads.

Stock photo: A tornado in Oklahoma. Benjamin Shoemake/Getty Images

In response to the damage caused by the tornado, Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin issued a 7 p.m. curfew and urged people not to drive in the streets, The Weather Channel reported. Amid Saturday's severe weather outbreak, tornadoes were reported in eight states, including Iowa, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Wisconsin, ABC News reported.

Unreal up close footage from Said Said in Jonesboro. He owns the Triple S Phones shop and stated the tornado came VERY quick.

Scary footage. I can’t imagine. @ReedTimmerAccu @JimCantore #arwx pic.twitter.com/KFWqpdKbEx

— Zachary Hall (@WxZachary) March 28, 2020

The storm system that produced the tornadoes also brought heavy rain to an area stretching from Iowa to Pennsylvania, and snow to the area between Colorado to Minnesota, with up to 10 inches reported in western Nebraska, according to ABC.

Rain led to flash flooding in parts of the Cleveland metropolitan area overnight on Sunday, forcing authorities to launch water rescue missions and order evacuations.

Tornadoes are formed — usually in thunderstorms — when warm, moist air, which rises, meets cooler air, creating atmospheric instability. Changes in wind direction and speed, known as wind shear, in combination with this instability creates the distinctive rotating column.

Currently, the link between climate change and tornadoes is unclear, due to inconsistent data on the phenomenon.