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The Latest: 3 tornadoes confirmed in Arkansas storms

December 2, 2018
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Joyce Morrissey sorts through the debris of her nephew Stephen Tirpak's house in Taylorville, Ill., Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018. The National Weather Service says multiple tornadoes touched down in central Illinois, damaging dozens of structures and injuring multiple people. (Ted Schurter/The State Journal-Register via AP)

TAYLORVILLE, Ill. (AP) — The Latest on tornadoes in parts of the central U.S. (all times local):

5:55 p.m.

Meteorologists in Arkansas have confirmed that at least three tornadoes developed from severe thunderstorms on Friday night.

The National Weather Service said Sunday that a strong tornado touched down in Van Buren, Arkansas, about 130 miles (212 kilometers) northwest of Little Rock. The tornado was rated an EF2, which indicates wind speeds as high as 135 mph.

About 10 minutes later, a second weaker tornado was confirmed less than 10 miles (16 kilometers) away near the town of Rudy, Arkansas. Damage surveys for the two tornadoes are ongoing but officials said dozens of homes were damaged.

Early Saturday morning a third tornado with estimated peak winds of 107 mph traveled about 8.5 miles (13.5 kilometers) through Spring Hill in southwest Arkansas, about 110 miles (178 kilometers) from Little Rock. Its path was intermittent and mostly caused damage to trees and to some structures.

No injuries or fatalities were reported as a result of the tornadoes.

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5:25 p.m.

The National Weather Service says a rare wintertime tornado that struck Taylorville in central Illinois was half-a-mile-wide and stayed on the ground for at least 10 miles (16 kilometers).

Weather service meteorologist Chris Miller told The Associated Press on Sunday the agency was able to give Taylorville an advanced warning of 41 minutes that the powerful tornado was headed the community’s way. The Saturday warning estimated the twister would arrive at 5:20 p.m. and it struck at 5:21 p.m.

The warning helped residents take cover and may have saved lives. Around 20 people were injured, but there were no deaths.

December tornadoes are rare.

At least 12 were reported in Illinois on Saturday. If most are confirmed as tornadoes, Miller said that would be the most tornadoes in Illinois in a December storm since Dec. 18-19, 1957, when there were 21.

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1:25 p.m.

The National Weather Service has confirmed two tornadoes touched down in eastern Oklahoma and is chasing reports of multiple other tornadoes as part of severe thunderstorms Friday night.

Meteorologists said Sunday a tornado with peak winds of 115 to 125 mph caused severe damage in northwestern Sequoyah County. Multiple homes, boats and power lines were destroyed. The tornado traveled at least 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast, though investigators are still determining its end location.

Another smaller tornado developed earlier in the evening near Webbers Falls which uprooted trees and damaged irrigation systems and barns. That tornado traveled about 7 miles (11 kilometers) just past the town of Gore.

Up to three other tornadoes are being investigated in eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas. No injuries have been reported.

Severe thunderstorms also raked Illinois and Missouri on Saturday. One person was killed in Missouri.

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12:50 p.m.

Residents in central Illinois are assessing damage from rare December tornadoes that ripped roofs off homes, downed power lines and injured at least 20 people.

The Springfield Journal Register reports the National Weather Service sent crews Sunday to survey the hardest-hit areas, including Taylorville, 25 miles (40 kilometers) southeast of Springfield.

Assistant Fire Chief Andy Goodall spoke to reporters Saturday night after the storms raked the city of 11,000. He said at least 100 homes had major damage, including his own.

A Taylorville Memorial Hospital spokesman said 21 people, from age 9 to 97, arrived for treatment Saturday. Most were discharged within hours.

No deaths have been reported in Illinois. One death was reported in southwest Missouri early Saturday after thunderstorms there.

The National Weather Service says peak months for tornadoes in much of the Midwest are April and June.

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