Tornadoes Kill 7 in South, Cause Flooding
Storm system moving east after deaths in Missouri and Arkansas
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 1, 2011 7:06 AM CST
Updated Jan 1, 2011 5:13 PM CST
The St. Paul's Catholic Church's rectory, foreground, church and school lie damaged after severe weather in St. Louis, Mo.    (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Emily Rasinski)
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(Newser) – A rare outbreak of winter tornadoes has killed at least seven people in Missouri and Arkansas and left a trail of destruction across the South and Midwest. Three people were killed by a tornado in a small town in northern Arkansas and a tornado spawned by the same weather system killed four more in Missouri. Tornado watches are in effect for parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana as the system moves east. Making matters worse, the storm system has caused flash flooding in parts of Alabama, MSNBC reports

One Arkansas man survived with only bumps and bruises after a tornado plucked him from his home. "It sucked me out of my house and carried me across the road and dropped me," he told AP. "I was Superman for a while. You're just free-floating through the air. Trees are knocking you and smacking you down." Meteorologists believe the violent winter weather is linked to changes in Pacific Ocean temperatures, which have affected the jet stream across the central US.