A tornado was spotted in Missouri on Thursday night, the National Weather Service said, and parts of Texas were under a tornado watch.
Rich Thompson, a forecaster for the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., said at least one tornado had been seen in southeast Missouri.
The storm was expected to expand and hit parts of Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi and Missouri overnight.
The tornado "is part of a larger severe storm,” Thompson told the Los Angeles Times.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency in response to a severe weather forecast, urging residents to be prepared for heavy rain, hail, high winds, flash flooding and a potential tornado.
St. Louis, much of Missouri and parts of Illinois were under a flash flood watch through Thursday night, the weather service said. Iowa was under a strong-wind warning into Friday, and Indiana had a flood warning.
The tornado watch in parts of north and central Texas was in effect until 9 p.m. Local news outlets urged residents of Denton and Fanine counties to "take cover" as they aired footage of the storm.
The outages didn’t stop many Texans from posting photos of the hail and overcast skies on social media.
“What the #hail am I talking about?” tweeted Maiah Diala, a student at Texas Woman’s University in Denton.
Diala also tweeted a picture of a car – parked in a lot outside her dorm – that had a giant hole in its roof, caused by the hail.
“We didn’t think it was bad outside,” she told The Times. “Then we saw the cars with holes in them.”
Diala, 17, said the university issued one of several emergency alerts at 5:58 p.m.
“Tornado cited in the Denton area,” the text read. “Move to interior of building.”
Before getting the text and hearing sirens outside, Diala said, she just thought it was another hailstorm.
Here are other posts from social media:
If this tornado were the Titanic sinking then Shawn = Jack trying to save the world and I = the old ladies having a panic attack #airprtfun— Alexis Toporowski (@alexistopper) April 4, 2014