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At least 18 people in three states were reported dead on Sunday as dozens of killer tornadoes descended on the Plains and the South. Worst hit? Faulkner County, Arkansas – where ten people lost their lives as a pair of small towns were left in ruins.

Five additional deaths were confirmed in Pulaski County, Arkansas.

“It’s been a truly awful night for many families, neighborhoods and communities, but Arkansans always step up to help each other recover,” Gov. Mike Beebe said.

U.S. President Barack Obama – traveling in the Phillippines – pledged federal disaster relief.

“Your country will be there to help you recover and rebuild as long as it takes,” Obama said.

The death toll from the initial wave of storms is expected to climb, while forecasters are projecting more tornadoes in the coming days as the strong storm front continues to move east across the country.

“Locations from the Plains into the Mississippi Valley, Ohio Valley and parts of the South could see severe storms and tornadoes on one or multiple days,” The Weather Channel reports. “In addition, flooding rainfall will also be a serious threat.”

The slow-moving system is expected to move into the Deep South on Tuesday and Wednesday, bringing damaging wind, hail, flooding and the possibility of tornadoes to the Carolinas.

“The worst is not over,” The Weather Channel’s lead meteorologist Kevin Roth said. “This is a multi-day severe thunderstorm and tornado outbreak.”

Scary stuff …

Spring thunderstorms have become a grim national ritual. Last May, a massive twister killed 24 people in Oklahoma City – destroying a town that had been leveled fourteen years earlier during another tornado outbreak.

America’s deadliest tornado struck Missouri, Illinois and Indiana back in 1925, killing nearly 700 people. The deadliest tornado in recent memory struck Joplin, Mississippi in 2011 – killing 162 people and causing more than $2.8 billion in damage.