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Severe weather threatens more than half the country

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Posted at 4:09 PM, May 29, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-29 18:09:19-04

From Ed Payne and Sean Morris

(CNN) — Tornado watches stretched from the Texas Panhandle to central Nebraska on Wednesday as another wave of storms put portions of the Plains states and Midwest squarely in the bull’s-eye again.

It was the latest round of severe weather to settle over America’s heartland as warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico saturated the area, bringing with it the risk of twisters, large hail and damaging winds.

No tornadoes or damage had been reported so far.

But a severe thunderstorm warning posted for the Kearney, Nebraska, area said golf ball-sized hail that could damage vehicles, roofs and crops was possible as the storm swept northward. In Macksville, Kansas, about 100 miles west of Wichita, residents reported wind gusts up to 80 mph, the National Weather Service said.

The watches also covered most of western Oklahoma and Oklahoma City and its suburbs. One of those, Moore, was hit May 20 by a top-scale, mile-wide tornado that killed 24 people.

The threat covers more than half the country, stretching from the Canadian border to the Gulf coast and from the Eastern Seaboard to the Intermountain West.

This will most likely occur in the form of severe thunderstorms, though the forecast notes there’s also a greater probability than usual of large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes.

The powerful storms have been dumping heavy rain across the region, especially on portions of Kansas, Missouri, South Dakota, Illinois and Indiana, where flood warnings were in place, the Weather Service said.

Multiple tornadoes were spotted across Kansas on Tuesday evening. One touched down near the north-central town of Corning, striking six farms, one of which was destroyed, according to Nemaha County emergency manager Todd Swart. But there were no reports of injuries or deaths: “I imagine there are some dead hogs,” Swart said.

Justin Strathman saw the twister first-hand, catching the video on his cell phone. “It was amazing,” he told CNN affiliate KSHB. “It was scary. I ain’t gonna lie.”

Later Tuesday, strong winds — which National Weather Service reports said may have been a tornado, though local police said they were more likely potent straight-line winds — caused damage near Waterford, Pennsylvania. This northwestern Pennsylvania town is about 15 miles south of Erie.

— CNN’s Greg Botelho and Carma Hassan contributed to this report

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