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TODAY   |  April 14, 2014

Storms head east after battering Midwest, South

A powerful weather system has spawned tornadoes, flash floods and hailstorms from Texas to Michigan. NBC’s Joe Fryer reports.

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>>> another big story this morning, dangerous spring storms. a powerful system that produced tornados, hail and heavy rain across the nation's midsection is moving east. nbc's joe fryer is in lovelady , texas , north of houston. joe , good morning.

>> reporter: the tornado did touch down in lovelady , texas . the worst of the damage here. giant trees were uprooted. some landing on a mobile home . a woman was inside there at the time. she was pulled out and taken to the hospital with only cuts and bruises and should be okay. this is just a taste of the damage caused by wild weather throughout the southern and central u.s. as a twister moved closer to lovelady , texas , those nervously watching couldn't help but notice its size.

>> it got bigger.

>> reporter: before long, it destroyed three mobile homes , sending one woman to the hospital. the weather caused problems across the south, from downpours in arkansas, to twisters in oklahoma, a state that had gone nearly 250 days without a tornado, almost breaking a record.

>> you can see some heavy rain in the air. you're seeing some hail mixed in there.

>> reporter: cameras also caught what appears to be a gustnado, a low-rotating vortex weaker than a tornado, but still capable of causing damage. pounding hail also left its mark across the country's midsection as severe storms hit the midwest, ripping up the landscape, especially in michigan.

>> before i knew it, about 60 seconds , man, it was -- it came through and blew my fence down, messed my garage door up.

>> reporter: wind gusts reaching as high as 80 miles an hour, strong enough to peel the roof off this high school gym and flip small airplanes. two men survived after a tree fell on their golf cart and a family narrowly escaped their home, now buried in a massive pile of fallen branches. this morning, as the spring storms move east, forecasters say the risk of tornado should drop, but extreme weather still remains a threat. back here in lovelady , texas , in addition to the damage to mobile homes , a school here also suffered some minor damage. now that the worst of the weather has moved out of this area, many in the central part of the country are bracing for a drastic drop in temperature. carson?

>> all right, joe fryer, thank you for that. so where is the biggest weather threat today? dylan dreyer is in for al. good morning.

>> good morning. today the threat is along the gulf coast . we have this tornado watch area that is shrinking right just to the northwest of jackson, mississippi. you can see we do have some really heavy downpours here. but from eastern texas all the way over into the panhandle of florida, including alabama, this is the area today where we could see especially large hail, damaging wind gusts and an isolated tornado. the tornado threat is not really as large today, but we do still have your flash flood watches and even right around jackson, mississippi, a flash flood warning . those torrential downpours can cause flooding in an instant, so that's something we have to watch because the potential is there for one to two inches of rain. and then as we go into tuesday, it works its way up the east coast and even up into the northeast. this is a powerful cold front that will produce about one to two inches of rain in the northeast as well. the severe threat diminishes as we go into tomorrow, but this afternoon we certainly have to keep an eye out for some of those very strong storms, especially early afternoon today. savannah?

>> all right, dylan, thank you so much.