JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A powerful storm front that barreled across much of the nation's midsection during the night toppled trees, downed power lines and damaged homes as gusting winds roughed up several northern Mississippi counties, authorities said Thursday.
There were also preliminary reports of minor damage in Arkansas and weather experts said the storm also punched across Tenessee as it rolled eastward.
Some utility poles in Mississippi snapped from the force of the winds, a tree fell on at least one home and there were reports of a mobile home damaged by the passing storm, local dispatchers and an official with the state's civil emergency agency told The Associated Press.
Jeff Rent, a spokesman for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, said at least six northern counties in his state reported damage but he had no initial accounts of any people hurt or killed. He also said experts would not be able to determine until ensuing daylight hours whether any tornadoes were embedded in the vast front that swept across Mississippi and other neighboring states.
"These were severe storms that produced damaging winds," he said. But whether tornadoes or straight-line winds or some other type of storm were responsible, he said that determination would come after daybreak Thursday.
Radar weather maps showed a huge, arcing front during the night that had raked across Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and parts of other states on a slanting jag from north to south. It was continuing to head eastward early Thursday.
Meteorologist Brian Koeneke at the National Weather Service in Jackson said the severe weather warnings were widespread but experts would begin the task Thursday of determining if any tornadoes had been part of the front.
The National Weather Service had begun issuing tornado watches and warnings for many areas of Mississipi beginning late Wednesday afternoon and expanding those as the hours wore on.
Dispatcher Erica Severson with the dispatch office for Yazoo City and county said damage in that area included many trees downed along with power lines.
In Oklahoma, a Storm Prediction Center meteorologist, Greg Dial, said there had been reports of possible tornadoes in some parts of the country.
"Mostly we've had reports of damaging wind, but we have had a few reports of tornadoes. Most of the tornadoes have been from extreme eastern Arkansas into northwestern and west-central Mississippi," Dial told AP.
He also said there were a few minor reports of damage in Arkansas such as homes off blocks.
He said the storms extended from southwest Louisiana across Mississippi early Thursday and the front was also expected to move through southwestern Alabama during the morning.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.