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Midwest, Kentucky Storms: McConnell Keeping ‘Close Eye’

Whitney Curtis/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is continuing to monitor his home state and others that have been affected by the rash of storms and tornadoes in recent days.

“We’ll continue to keep a close eye on Kentucky and other states and the affected region and make sure people have everything they need to clean up, rebuild and reclaim their dignity from the wreckage of this tragedy,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Thursday morning.

NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., an arm of the National Weather Service, said that at least 16 tornadoes were reported from Nebraska and Kansas through to southern Missouri, up to Illinois and over to Kentucky. More than 300 reports of severe weather in the last 36 hours included golf-ball-sized hail and damaging thunderstorm winds gusting over 80 mph.

No lives were reported lost as of Thursday afternoon in Kentucky, but there have been 12 people killed in other states due to the severe weather that raged throughout the region Wednesday.

“I join my colleagues from the affected states in keeping in my thoughts today all those affected by these storms, especially the families of those lost,” Minority Leader McConnell said. “I want to extend my gratitude to the first responders in Kentucky and across the entire Midwest who have risen to the occasion and provided the much-needed response and relief.”

The National Weather Service warned that the severe weather threat isn’t over. The Mississippi and Tennessee Valleys may see another round of severe weather Thursday, the NWS said, while other meteorologists predict another strong system could hit Friday in the Midwest and South.

Cities in the path of violent storms stretched from Branson, Mo., which was severely struck on Wednesday, to Memphis, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Nashville, Jackson, Miss., Atlanta, Cincinnati and Raleigh. The highest threat for damaging tornadoes Thursday was from Birmingham, Ala., to Nashville and Louisville.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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