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Spring storm brings ice and snow, sure, but why tornadoes?

A record-setting spring storm has killed three people, downed power lines, snapped large trees, and closed roads, schools, and businesses across the Midwest and Southeast.

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Two large trees — one oak and the other ash, each a century old — toppled onto one end of his house of 43 years, caving in his bedroom and crushing two of his vehicles.

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"Electricity lines came down and started sparking like it was the Fourth of July, and the whole house filled with smoke," said Grounds, 64.

At least eight homes were damaged in the St. Louis neighborhood known as the Hill, famous for its Italian heritage and restaurants. Mobile homes were blown over in parts of Franklin and Washington counties, not far from St. Louis.

Fuchs said the storm, which affected numerous states, was the result of a clash of warm and cold air — typical for spring.

A tornado with winds of 111-135 mph hit Botkinburg in north-central Arkansas on Wednesday and injured four people, National Weather Service forecasters said Thursday. It was rated as an EF-2 storm on a scale measuring tornado severity. EF-5 is the highest. Wednesday's storm was 400 yards wide at its peak

In South Dakota, snow and ice shut down several roads, including Interstate 90 for a time.

The weather service said the system could extend into flood-prone southeastern North Dakota, where about 3 to 5 inches of snow is expected through late Thursday.

"Any additional precipitation at this stage in the game is not necessarily a good thing," said Peter Rogers in Grand Forks.

In Minnesota, the snowstorm that made travel difficult Thursday across parts of Minnesota heaped more headaches on the southwest corner of the state, where communities are still struggling to restore power following an ice storm earlier in the week. Officials said it may be early next week before electricity is restored in the southwest.

Associated Press writers Jim Suhr and Jim Salter in St. Louis; Jeff Amy in Jackson; Blake Nicholson in Bismarck, N.D.; Steve Karnowski in Minneapolis; Gretchen Ehlke in Milwaukee; David Runk in Detroit;; and Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Ala., contributed to this report.

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