Ravaged Midwest in "bull's eye" for more storms

Patty Ferrell, of Herod, Ill., is overcome with emotion after finding the nursing scrubs that are on the hanger that belonged to her daughter, Jaylynn Ferrell, 22, who was killed in a tornado that struck Harrisburg, Ill., on Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012. The tornado destroyed the duplex where Jaylynn Ferrell had lived. AP Photo/The State Journal-Register/Justin L. Fowler

(CBS/AP) - After Wednesday's deadly twisters ravaged the Midwest, the mayor of the hardest-hit town of Harrisburg, Illinois vowed that his town would rebuild. But if the current weather forecast holds, the community won't have much time to start that effort.

Ryan Jewell, a meteorologist with the Storm Prediction Center, said the next storm system is forecast to take a similar path as Wednesday's storms and has the potential for even more damage.

On Friday, he said, both the Midwest and South will be "right in the bull's eye."

According to Jonathan Erdman, a senior meteorologist at weather.com, spring weather patterns "can lead to repeated severe outbreaks" and that appears to be the case Friday when tornadoes, damaging winds and large hail are all possible.

"Friday's severe outbreak setup couldn't be more classic for this time of year," Erdman says. "Another energetic jet-stream dip plows into the nation's heartland, intensifying a surface frontal system drawing warm and humid air northward."

On Wednesday, a pre-dawn twister flattened entire blocks of homes in Harrisburg as violent storms ravaged the Midwest and South, killing at least 12 people in three states.

12 killed as storms ravage South, Midwest

Winds also ripped through the country music mecca of Branson, Mo., damaging some of the city's famous theaters just days before the start of the busy tourist season.

The tornado that blasted Harrisburg in southern Illinois, killing six, was an EF4, the second-highest rating given to twisters based on damage. Scientists said it was 200 yards wide with winds up to 170 mph.

By midday, townspeople in the community of 9,000 were sorting through piles of debris and remembering their dead while the winds still howled around them.

Tammy Risley, a Harrisburg resident, told CBS News, "The sirens went off and...everything just came through. It was like my house inhaled and just let it out."

Risley said she felt like she cheated death. "I had a guardian angel watching over me," she said.

Now she's not sure what to do -- or where to go. Some people in Harrisburg took shelter with the Red Cross.

The Midwest and South were to get a reprieve from the menacing weather Thursday - but Friday will bring another strong system that could wreak more havoc.

Comments