At least one person killed as massive tornadoes hit Kansas and Oklahoma – causing devastation in their wake as Midwest and Southern states are placed on high alert for extreme weather
- A 79-year-old man has been reported dead in Shawnee, Oklahoma in decimated trailer park
- Oklahoma governor declares state of emergency in 16 counties
PUBLISHED: 16:26 EST, 19 May 2013 | UPDATED: 23:50 EST, 19 May 2013
Severe weather has left a violent trail of destruction through the Midwest and South, bringing high winds, heavy rains and tornadoes – and at least one person has been killed.
Numerous twisters were spotted on Saturday evening near Rozel, a sparsely populated area in central Kansas. They were also reported to the south in parts of Oklahoma and Iowa.
Lightning bolts lit up the sky as the storm moved through.
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A National Weather Service advisory warned: ‘You could be killed if not underground or in a tornado shelter.’
‘Complete destruction of neighborhoods, businesses and vehicles will occur. Flying debris will be deadly to people and animals.’
At least four separate tornadoes touched down in central Oklahoma on Sunday afternoon, including one near the town of Shawnee, 35 miles southeast of Oklahoma City, that laid waste to much of a trailer park.
At least one person was reported dead in the park that was leveled by the storm, 9News reported.
The victim was identified as a 79-year-old man.
On Interstate 40, tractor-trailers were blown off the road, and one was seen hanging over the highway’s overpass.
Dozens of homes were damaged by the other tornadoes that touched down in Oklahoma, but emergency officials had no immediate reports of injuries caused by any of them, including the first of the afternoon that hit Edmond, a suburb north of Oklahoma City, before making its way toward Tulsa, 90 miles to the northeast.
‘I knew it was coming,’ said Randy Grau, who huddled with his wife and two young sons in their Edmond home’s safe room when the tornado hit.
He said he peered out his window as the weather worsened and believed he saw a flock of birds heading down the street.
The destruction in the wake of the punishing storm led Oklahoma Gov Mary Fallin to declare a state of emergency for 16 counties.
The National Weather Service in Wichita put in place tornado warnings for East Central Kingman County, Southern Sedgwick County and Northwester Sumner County in the state.
A massive twister touched down near Wichita Mid-Continent Airport just before 4pm local time.
A severe thunderstorm, capable of becoming a tornado, happened at 3:30pm and moved Northeast at 35mph, bringing ping-pong ball sized hail, according to weather.com.
Those who live in mobile homes were warned that there was extreme risk of their properties being destroyed.
Residents were warned to take cover in an interior room on the lowest floor of a solid building and stay back from windows.
People were warned to take care because flying debris could be deadly as was the risk of falling trees.
It comes just days after devastating Texas tornadoes which killed six people and injured dozens.
The National Weather Service says 15 tornadoes touched down in north Texas on Wednesday.
Initial estimates put that number at 10, however the NWS added five more throughout Thursday afternoon.
In its preliminary findings, the National Weather Service rated the tornado that hit Hood County Wednesday night an EF-4, which is labeled ‘devastating’ by the Enhanced Fujita Scale.
The scale ranges from from FO, defined as a gale, to F5, defined as incredible.
The Storm Prediction Center had been warning about severe weather in the region since Wednesday, and on Friday, it zeroed in on Sunday as the day the storm system would likely pass through.
‘They’ve been calling for this all day,’ Edmond resident Anita Wright said after riding out the twister in an underground shelter.
She and her husband Ed emerged from their hiding place to find uprooted trees, downed limbs and damaged gutters in their home.
In Katie Leathers’ backyard, the family’s trampoline was tossed through a section of fence and a giant tree uprooted.
‘I saw all the trees waving, and that’s when I grabbed everyone and got into two closets,’ Leathers said. ‘All these trees just snapped.’
Terrifying: Those living in mobile homes were warned to take shelter in sturdier buildings
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