Super Storm: Deadly System to Affect 150 Million and to Threaten Six States With Tuesday Tornadoes

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Courtesy Weather Channel

A churning, deadly storm system is poised to continue pounding the south-central U.S. for at least another day, before shifting its energy to the East Coast. Nearly 40 percent of the nation now lies in its path.

(UPDATED: 1:15 p.m. ET) Some states simply cannot catch a break. Residents in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma will see the tail end of the system bombarding them with much the same violent weather as its front end: tornadoes, hail, high winds and flooding rain is in order for much of the South and Midwest today. The Weather Channel notes there’s a “significant and life-threatening” outbreak of tornadoes expected to move from northeastern Texas across Arkansas and into the Memphis, Tenn. area.

This bleak forecast comes only hours after some Arkansas communities were devastated by the volatile storm front. “The town’s gone,” one Vilonia, Ark. resident told the Associated Press. A tornado peeled through the small town in central Arkansas late Monday evening, with torrential downpours and high winds causing damage across much of the state. Since Monday, this storm has killed 14 people, four of whom drowned after heavy rains led to widespread flooding, leading Arkansas to issue a state of emergency. Compounding the misery: More rain is expected to come down Tuesday, not only in Arkansas but also in Missouri, where a levee protecting the town of Poplar Bluff was breached late Tuesday morning. Officials were rushing to evacuate residents. (See the latest photos of the devastating floods.)

But these storms are hardly localized affairs. The wider Lower Mississippi Valley, already hit by one arm of the storm Monday afternoon into early Tuesday, will be struck by yet another wave of storms this afternoon. In fact, early Tuesday morning, meteorologists were already warning half a dozen states to be on the lookout for funnel clouds: Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. Overnight, this system will then continue its tirade north into Illinois and Wisconsin, said Greg Carbin, a meteorologist with the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. From there, the storm will sweep east across the nation, reaching as far north as New York and far south as Georgia, dumping inches of rain across a major swath of the Eastern seaboard.

And right behind this system is another emerging storm front in the Midwest, already starting to move east.

(More on See the widespread devastation caused by this storm system)

All told, between Monday and Thursday night, these systems are poised to cross 30 states and affect up to 150 million Americans.

Breaking news reports of damage in Kentucky and Indiana were already starting to flow in as of 11 a.m. Tuesday, with the National Weather Service confirming at least nine tornados in the Louisville area alone. Kentucky, much like Arkansas, has declared a state of emergency. Flooding, meanwhile, is now also proving to be every bit as dangerous as the twisters; in an area east of Little Rock, Ark., stretching across Memphis and up to eastern Tennessee, residents are expecting nearly nine inches of rain from this system alone.

(More on See photos of the tornado that struck St. Louis’ Airport)

But what’s perhaps most shocking about this storm system is that it arrives in the wake of last week’s devastating barrage of tornadoes. More than 200 tornadoes were spawned last week over three days, killing at least 46 people. When all was said and done, NBC News confirmed that the April tornado tally had reached 292, shattering all previous records.

Given the 10 additional tornadoes that have already been recorded over just the past 12 hours, April 2011 is sure to go down in the history books as one of America’s most violent months of weather.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

(More on See the aftermath of 240 tornadoes in the South)