Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa and Nebraska are some of the Midwest states that have been at the center of tornado activity this Sunday. At least one person has died in Shawnee, Okla, due to tornado-related injuries.
These four states have been placed under tornado watches and warnings. More than a dozen counties in these states have been affected.
In Edmond, Oklahoma, through the Plains and Midwest, one of the tornadoes has leveled several mobile homes in an area southeast of Oklahoma City.
There have been unconfirmed reports of injuries in the mobile home park near Shawnee about 35 miles southeast of Oklahoma City.
A storm spotter, reporting to the National Weather Service, said that the tornado “scoured” the landscape in the park and an area along Interstate 40.
Hail as large as grapefruit was dropped by the Oklahoma storm system and tornado it spawned. It damaged roofs and structures before heading east. In Wellston, northeast of Oklahoma City, aerial flyovers showed a great deal of property damage.
“I knew it was coming,” said Edmond resident Randy Grau. He sought to wait the storm out, huddling together with his wife and two young boys in their Edmond’s home’s safe room.
What at first looked to him like a flock of birds heading down the street turned out to be something quite different. According to Grau, what he really saw was “swirling debris.”
Grau said: “That’s when we shut the door of the safe room.” He stated he was in the safe room with his family for probably “10 minutes.”
In Enid, Oklahoma, on Saturday, a police officer was injured due to the high winds when his cruiser was struck by an object.
Mike Honigsberg, who is an area emergency manager, told The Oklahoman newspaper that the car may have been hit by a cattle trough lifted by the wind.
An officer in Oklahoma City was trapped for a time when surrounded by fallen utility lines.
Electricity was knocked out to thousands in Oklahoma.
Meanwhile, in Kansas, according to the National Weather Service, a “violent and extremely dangerous tornado” was spotted in the southwest side of Wichita near the Mid-Continent Airport.
According to Carl Brewer, the mayor of Wichita, the city was hit harder by high winds and golf ball sized hail than anything from the tornado.
“That alone, and the rain, actually just really did a number on the city,” he said. “It was so bad you think a tornado came through.”
Hail ripped through the sides of houses in Wichita, in addition to breaking windows and damaging cars, Brewer stated.
There has yet to be local reports of injuries of deaths stemming from the storm.
According to the Des Moines Register, a tornado touched down in Iowa, 30 miles west of Des Moines.
The Kansas City Star has reported that the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) said Sunday: “The overall environment appears quite favorable for tornadoes.”
The SPC says the greatest risk for storms in Oklahoma is in the far north, around the Bartlesville area. Overall, the cities included in the area of moderate risk are Kansas City, Wichita, Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
Besides being blasted by high winds, areas in the Midwestern states are being bombarded by hail.
CNN meteorologist Melissa Le Fevre said “Overall, the threat is similar for the region: strong supercells that will have the capability to produce hail baseball-size or larger, strong wind gusts and tornadoes,” and added that “It will ultimately depends on how warm the region gets today.”
The National Weather Service said that supercell thunderstorms are dangerous storms that could last for hours.
“They are responsible for nearly all of the significant tornadoes produced in the U.S. and for most of the hailstones larger than golf ball size. Supercells are also known to produce extreme winds and flash flooding.”
Written by: Douglas Cobb