Deadly tornadoes hit Branson, Mo., Illinois, and Kansas

A tornado killed one person near Branson, Mo., overnight. Three more deaths were reported Wednesday morning in Harrisburg, Illinois. Harveyville, Kansas, was also struck by a tornado. Warnings were issued Wednesday morning for  Kentucky.

(AP Photo/Matthew Fowler, Gazette)
Damage is seen early Wednesday morning Feb. 29, 2012 in Harveyville, Kansas, after an apparent tornado passed through the town Tuesday night. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback declared a state of emergency .

One person is dead, dozens are injured and some are trapped in their homes after a powerful storm system bearing a string of tornadoes battered Branson, a tourist hub, and a mobile home park in southwest Missouri. Three deaths more were reported Wednesday morning in Harrisburg, Ill., by local TV station, KFVS12. Harveyville, Kansas, was also struck by a tornado causing injuries and extensive damage.

Tornado warnings were issued early Wednesday morning for Kentucky as the severe weather moved eastward.

Rescue crews awaited sunrise Wednesday to begin scouring the trailer park south of Buffalo, Missouri, where at least one person was killed after an apparent tornado slammed the area overnight, Lt. Dana Eagan of the Dallas County Sheriff's Office said.

The storm left another 13 people at the park injured and knocked out power to all of Buffalo, Eagan said. Buffalo is about 35 miles north of Springfield.

RECOMMENDED: How to prepare for a tornado

An apparent tornado left at least a dozen more people injured further south in Branson, trapping some people in their homes, National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Griffin.

Searchers were going from house to house early Wednesday, Taney County Sheriff Jimmie Russell. The National Weather Service typically sends teams in the hours and days following a storm of this size to determine if a tornado struck.

Griffin said the storm left a trail of destruction in downtown Branson, scattering the area with debris and uprooted road signs, and heavily damaging buildings in the city's famous theater district.

Branson is one of the Midwest's major tourist attractions, drawing millions each year to its theaters and amusement parks. Entertainers such as Andy Williams, comedian Yakov Smirnoff and Jim Stafford have settled in the city.

In neighboring Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback declared a state of emergency late Tuesday after an apparent tornado struck Harveyville. The declaration covered Wabaunsee County, southwest of Topeka.

Authorities say 11 people were injured in Harveyville. Sharon Watson is a spokeswoman for the Kansas Adjutant General's office that oversees emergency operations. She says three people were critically injured in the storm late Tuesday, and eight others suffered minor injuries. Many of them were taken to a Topeka hospital.

Harveyville is a town of about 250 people southwest of Topeka. Watson says about 40 percent of the town suffered damage. Homes were reduced to rubble, with power lines down and gas service out across the city.

Earlier, the National Weather Service reported brief tornado touchdowns southwest of Hutchinson, Kan.

On Wednesday morning, a  broad tornado watch was posted for western and central Kentucky  by the National Weather Service in advance of a storm system that went through southwest Missouri and caused severe damage in the Ozark Mountains resort town of Branson.

All but the easternmost counties of Kentucky have been cautioned about the possibility of tornadoes.

The National Weather Service says a late winter storm brought heavy snow to northern Nebraska and a tornado to west-central Nebraska's Logan County.

A Logan County dispatcher said Wednesday that he's seen no reports of damage or injuries from the twister that touched down Tuesday in a field just southwest of Stapleton.

Pea-size hail and heavy rain pelted the area around Mullen, which is 40 miles north-northwest of Stapleton.

The weather service says up to 8 inches of snow fell in a band from Gordon east to Ainsworth.

RECOMMENDED: How to prepare for a tornado

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