(RNN) – Nine people are confirmed dead after a series of violent storms tore through the Midwest on Friday, taking aim at two major metropolitan areas: Oklahoma City and St. Louis.
Among the dead are a mother and baby who were found in their vehicle on Interstate 40. The Associated Press is reporting two children are among the fatalities and 75 people sustained injuries in the storms.
A road in Oklahoma washed out due to flash floods in the area, and flooding and damage to other roads due to the storm has hampered rescue efforts. Some residents in Canadian County, OK, are without water and other services following the storm, authorities confirmed Saturday morning.
A storm the National Weather Service called “large” and “violent” touched down in central Oklahoma on Friday, making its way along I-40 toward Oklahoma City.
The supercell storm spawned at least two tornadoes.
TV cameras caught the first tornado developing then touching down near El Reno, OK, around 6 p.m. CST. The twister appeared to land in a rural field and have multiple vortices, meaning the tornado could contain more than one funnel. A second tornado followed closely behind the first.
The two tornadoes were “rain wrapped,” making the funnel cloud difficult to spot.
The city of Oklahoma City stated that a severe thunderstorm watch remained in effect for central Oklahoma until 5 a.m. Saturday.
Due to severe flooding from the heavy precipitation, authorities were encouraging residents to stay off of the roads and to avoid flooded areas.
Just after midnight Saturday, tornado warnings were reported in eastern Oklahoma, near Fort Smith, AR, and in McDonald or Barry County, MO.
The National Weather Service office in Springfield, MO, reported that “storms will continue to roll across extreme southeast Kansas and southern Missouri overnight. The risk of sever storms and flooding will persist.”
Flooding took the life of a sheriff in Arkansas.
Scott County Sheriff Cody Carpenter died Friday while responding to a 911 call, and Arkansas Game and Fish Warden Joel Campora was missing.
The men were attempting to rescue two women from a flooded home when the flooded home imploded, according to a CNN report. The two women were also still missing Friday.
OG & E, a major electrical company in Oklahoma, reported that 54,000 customers lost power Friday, and it was unknown how long the power would stay out.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said on CNN that the state prepared for the storm all day, saying many private businesses sent people home early this afternoon.
El Reno is about 30 miles west of Oklahoma City. The National Weather Service issued a tornado emergency for the city, which has a population of more than 17,000 residents. A tornado emergency was also issued for Oklahoma City and surrounding suburbs, which includes Moore. Tinker Air Force Base also was under a tornado warning.
Tractor-trailers and cars were flipped along parts of I-40, and about 50,000 people are without power in the Oklahoma City area.
State troopers shut down portions of the interstate in an attempt to get motorists out of the storm’s path.
At Will Rogers World Airport, in Oklahoma City, passengers were evacuated to an underground tunnel, and flights were grounded for the remainder of Friday. The airport reopened early Saturday despite reports of roof damage to the terminal, according to the airport’s Twitter feed, but all early morning departures were canceled.
The NCAA Women’s College World Series, happening in Oklahoma City, was delayed before finally being postponed until Saturday. The first game featuring Washington vs. Tennessee was supposed to begin at 6 p.m. CST. The Tennessee softball team tweeted that they were taking cover in the basement of their hotel’s parking garage and that everyone is safe and accounted for.
A vehicle used by a Weather Channel storm team and forecaster Mike Bettes was thrown 200 yards by the storm.The impact destroyed the vehicle. The Weather Channel reports the airbags deployed and everyone is safe, but the team did sustain minor injuries.
Tennis ball-sized hail rained down across the area.
Forecasters at the National Weather Center were urged to stay away from windows due to strong winds.
In Moore, OK, a town still picking up the pieces from an EF-5 tornado that hit May 20, the cleanup began once again.
“There’s very little power, the streets are flooded, I can’t even get to my house to see if it’s OK,” said Moore Mayor Glen Lewis.
Ahead of Friday’s storms, the National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for parts of central and northeastern Oklahoma, calling it a “particularly dangerous situation” capable of producing intense tornadoes and up to 4 inch hail.
Joplin, MO, which observed the two-year anniversary of the fatal EF-5 tornado that killed 158 people, also was under a warning Friday.
Thursday, four tornadoes were reported in Arkansas and Oklahoma, three in Oklahoma and one in Arkansas.
Authorities in Tull, AR, said a driver died Thursday when a tree was knocked down onto his car, according to the Associated Press.
Nine people were injured, all in Arkansas.
Rotational clouds briefly touched down near Perkins and Ripley northeast of Oklahoma City about 3 p.m. CST Thursday, according to KWTV.
A tornado also touched down in Broken Arrow, OK, a suburb of Tulsa, at approximately 8:40 p.m. CST Thursday. Meteorologist Pete Snyder said the tornado caused “considerable damage.”
However, the National Weather Service stated the tornado did not appear to be as strong as the one that struck Moore, OK, last week.
Two homes were destroyed in Oden, AR.
The outdoor Wakarusa Music Festival on Mulberry Mountain in Ozark, AR, was postponed Thursday and will be rescheduled. Snoop Lion (formerly Snoop Dogg), the Black Crowes and Widespread Panic were among the scheduled acts.
About 15,000 people took shelter in their cars to escape high winds and lightning, according to the Southwest Times.
According to an Associated Press report, tornadoes were spotted in Montgomery and Clark counties in western Arkansas Thursday. At least nine people were injured by the tornadoes Thursday, and two others were injured by lightning. An Emergency Management spokesperson reported one destroyed home in the two counties.
Lightning was blamed for a fire that destroyed two floors of a condominium building in northwestern Indiana Thursday.
Severe thunderstorms also caused property damage Thursday in Onawa, IA.
Article Courtesy of WOIO 19 Action News
Picture Courtesy of KOCO-TV, CNN and WOIO 19 Action News
NATIONAL: Nine Confirmed to be Dead from Latest Oklahoma Tornadoes was originally published on wzakcleveland.com
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