Little Rock, Arkansas, was hit by its third tornado this year.
This one took out the entire North Little Rock municipal airport. More than two dozen planes were blown from a hangar and tossed around like toys.
The tornado passed directly over the local office of the weather service, which was destroyed.
Damage also was reported in Benton at a mobile home park and a car dealership whose surveillance camera caught the storm on tape. After hitting the city, the storm moved into the city's northeastern suburbs. Trees were reported down in Jacksonville and Cabot.
Anticipating potential wide-spread damage, Entergy Arkansas, the state's largest electric utility, requested line workers in neighboring states stand by to help. Company spokesman James Thompson said there were 38,500 customers still without power Friday morning, adding, "It's going to be a long day."
More than 20,000 homes lost electrical service, and it is not clear how many people were injured. No deaths have been reported.
Churches throughout the region have set up shelters to help the victims.
The Arkansas storm probably contributed to several traffic accidents when it passed through the Little Rock metropolitan area.
Susann Walters, 55, said she took cover in a closet with her two dogs and a cat as the storm approached her home in Cammack Village northwest Little Rock. "It was probably 30-45 seconds," Walter said. "It was quick."
A tree from her front yard smashed the hood and windshield of a neighbor's SUV, but her bungalow house lost only a few shingles.
"I'm not going anywhere," she said as lightning filled the sky and the roar of chain saws pierced the night.
Source: The Associated Press