Storms dump rain across U.S. Midwest, kill Kentucky woman

(Reuters) - A band of thunderstorms reaching across the lower Mississippi Valley into Ohio on Saturday killed a Kentucky woman in her home and threatened more flooding in an area that has already seen evacuations because of high water.

The storm system packing hail, high winds and possible tornados was forecast to drop from 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) of rain by early Sunday from Arkansas into the Ohio Valley.

Much of the area was under flash flood warnings or watches after being saturated by rain in the past week or so, the National Weather Service said.

“It’s a pretty high-impact event over a very large area,” Bob Oravec, a forecaster with the agency’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland, said by telephone.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb issued a disaster emergency for 11 counties because of damage from widespread flooding, especially from the Kankakee River in northern Indiana.

In Ohio, Governor John Kasich declared an emergency in 17 counties along the Ohio River and in the southern part of the state because of high water and storm damage.

A 79-year-old woman died in her rural home near Logan, Kentucky, when it was struck by an apparent tornado, Nashville, Tennessee, TV station WKRN reported.

Quoting emergency management officials, the broadcaster said the woman and her husband, who was unharmed, did not hear any siren.

County officials did not respond to a request for comment.

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin said on Twitter late Saturday, “We’ve lost multiple Kentuckians today due to severe weather events in the western part of our state.”

“The Potential for similar weather continues to move into Kentucky overnight,” he said in a tweet.

The governor asked that all citizens to take weather warnings seriously.

Flooding has claimed at least three lives this week, including a 1-year-old girl in Michigan, according to media.

A 52-year-old woman was found dead in her car that was submerged in a ditch in Illinois and a 53-year-old man was killed in Oklahoma when his car was swept away by flood waters, media reported.

Hundreds of people have been evacuated over the last several days as rising waters reached their homes and nearby roads. Communities provided sandbags to home and business owners and set up dozens of shelters to house displaced residents.

Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee and Ian Simpson in Washington and Steve Bittenbender from Louisville, Kentucky; Editing by Mark Potter