Eight to 10 homes near the small town of Perryville were badly damaged and winds were so strong that several vehicles were blown off of Interstate 55.
The Oklahoma-based forecast center said 45 million people from Texas to Ohio faced some risk of bad weather.
The Bald Knob storm was part of the same system that produced a wall cloud near Mayflower, Arkansas, which was hit in 2014 by a tornado with winds approaching 200 mph.
The storm crossed Interstate 40 between Little Rock and Conway, but there were no reports that a funnel cloud touched down.
The storm system pelted some areas with large hailstones, including some the size of baseballs in central Illinois.