Violent thunderstorms were forecast to hit the central United States on Monday, threatening to bring additional hail, heavy rain and tornadoes to the region stricken by a deadly twister during the weekend.
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The National Weather Service said severe storms would hit the Ozarks and the middle Mississippi Valley, with the greatest risk in northwest Arkansas, far southeast Kansas, southern Missouri, most of Oklahoma and northern Texas.
"A very moist atmosphere will become quite unstable again today," the forecasters said. "This combined with strong favorable winds aloft will result in a risk of a few strong tornadoes, very large hail and damaging winds in the most intense storms."
A massive storm front hammered the region on Sunday with fist-sized hail, blinding rain and tornadoes, including a half-mile wide twister that struck near Oklahoma City. News reports said one man was killed and hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed in Shawnee, Oklahoma, east of Oklahoma City.
More than two dozen tornadoes were spotted in Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas and Illinois, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and local news reports. Hail stones, some as large as baseballs, were reported from Georgia to Minnesota, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin declared 16 counties of the state disaster areas, according to Jerry Lojka, a spokesman for the state emergency management department.
Just after 6 p.m. on Sunday, the National Weather Service's storm prediction center in Norman, Oklahoma, posted a Twitter alert on a tornado about to strike Pink, a town on the edge of Oklahoma City.
"Large tornado west of Pink!" the post read. "Take cover RIGHT NOW in Pink! DO NOT WAIT!"
The storm prompted an unusually blunt warning from the central region of the National Weather Service, which covers 14 states.
"You could be killed if not underground or in a tornado shelter," it said. "Complete destruction of neighborhoods, businesses and vehicles will occur. Flying debris will be deadly to people and animals."
Pat Slattery, National Weather Service spokesman for the U.S. Central region, said the advisory was part of a new warning system being tested after a violent tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri, on May 22, 2011, killing 158 people and injuring hundreds.
Slattery said the new advisory was reserved for severe tornadoes with the potential to form into "supercell" storms, which produce powerful winds and flash flooding.
A recent NOAA assessment of the Joplin storm found that "when people heard the first tornado warning, they did not immediately seek shelter. They looked for a secondary source to confirm the tornado," Slattery said. "That got some people killed." (Reporting by Jane Sutton, Chris Francescani and Ian Simpson; Editing by Doina Chiacu)
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