On the coasts, most Americans have been so preoccupied with the drama in Washington that they're probably not even aware of the chaos unfolding across the plains states and the Midwest. But if anything can distract America from the Democrats' grandstanding, this just might.
Late Wednesday night, a tornado ripped across Jefferson City, the capital of Missouri. The storm, described as a "direct hit" to the capital city, left dozens trapped and injured. What the National Weather Service described as a "violent tornado" landed nearly eight years to the day that another deadly storm leveled Joplin, Missouri. More tornadoes, thunderstorms and flash floods are expected for a large swath of the Midwest between Oklahoma and Illinois.
Across the state, storms have left three people dead, the Missouri Department of Public Safety reports.
According to the National Weather Service, the Jefferson City storm moved at 40 mph and blasted debris 13,000 feet into the air. Tornado and thunderstorm warnings were extended into the early morning hours of Thursday.
Tornado Emergency including Jefferson City MO, Holts Summit MO, Wardsville MO until 12:30 AM CDT pic.twitter.com/6xwmTcIdjv— NWS St. Louis (@NWSStLouis) May 23, 2019
Tornado watches were in place for areas from Oklahoma City northeast to central Illinois overnight. The NWS has received 33 reports of tornadoes between late Wednesday and Thursday morning. Since Tuesday, 60 such storms have been reported.
A total of 33 tornado reports from Wednesday (May 22, 2019) pic.twitter.com/DbtmP5p7Wl— Brad Sowder (@TheBradSowder) May 23, 2019
What CNN described as a "wedge tornado" - that is, a storm that is wider than it is tall - was first spotted around 11:30 pm on Wednesday near Jefferson City. The Fire Department in Jeff City asked residents to "Pray for Us" in a Facebook post.
In Jasper County, wedged in the southwestern corner of the state, another storm ripped through the area surrounding Joplin, coming within ten miles of the city, in some cases.
Because of the severe damage in Jefferson City, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson asked all non-essential state employees to remain at home on Thursday.
Major tornados across state tonight, including Jeff City. We’re doing okay but praying for those that were caught in damage, some are still trapped - local emergency crews are on site and assisting.— Governor Mike Parson (@GovParsonMO) May 23, 2019
Due to the tornado and severe weather in Jefferson City last night we are asking that all non-essential state employees in the Jefferson City area remain at home on Thursday. We have damage to state buildings and power is down in some areas. Please be safe!— Governor Mike Parson (@GovParsonMO) May 23, 2019
One woman described to CNN how she and her daughters sheltered in the only room in their house with no windows.
"When it hit... it felt like an earthquake," said Cindy Sandoval-Jakobsen.
Photos captured the immense bulk of the storm ripping through Jeff City.
For anybody wondering what it's like to experience such a devastating storm, this first person video offers a faint idea.
🔊🔊SOUND ON: Hear what residents heard just moments before a large #tornado ripped through places like #Eugene and #JeffersonCity in #Missouri. Local officials are reporting extensive damage and multiple people trapped in buildings. We'll have more details as they're available. pic.twitter.com/nHUuXjbpbW— WeatherNation (@WeatherNation) May 23, 2019