'Dangerous out there': 15 dead as tornadoes slam multiple states in the South: Updates (2024)

Powerful storms and tornadoes sweeping across the nation's midsection Sunday killed at least 15 people in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kentucky, injuring scores, knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across the region, and delaying the start of the iconic Indianapolis 500.

Seven deaths were confirmed in North Texas after an apparent tornado tore through Cooke County, near the Oklahoma border, on Saturday night, Gov. Greg Abbott said at a Sunday news conference in Valley View, one of the hardest-hit towns. Two children, aged 2 and 5 years old, were among the dead, according to Cooke County Sheriff Ray Sappington.

At least 100 others were injured in the deadly storm, Abbott said. The governor added that the tornado destroyed more than 200 homes and other buildings as well as damaged another 120 structures.

"I'll be shocked if those numbers are not increased as further assessments are made," Abbott said.

A tornado also ripped through Denton County, northwest of Dallas, on Saturday night and damaged homes and other buildings while knocking down power lines. Officials said "a number of individuals" were injured and transported to area hospitals.

The National Weather Service in Fort Worth said its crews assessed damage and conducted storm surveys in Montague, Cooke, Denton, and Collin Counties.

The tragedy comes five days after tornadoes killed five and injured dozens in Iowa. And at least eight people died when storms slammed Houston less than two weeks ago.

Tourists flock to Tornado Alley:People pay big bucks for the chance to see dangerous storms

'Dangerous out there': 15 dead as tornadoes slam multiple states in the South: Updates (1)

Developments:

∎ At least five people died in Arkansas, the Associated Press reported. Video and photos posted on social media showed homes destroyed in Decatur, Arkansas.

∎ Severe weather and heavy rain chances shift into the mid-Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee valleys later Sunday before progressing into the mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Gulf Coast on Memorial Day.

∎ Dangerous and potentially record-breaking heat was forecast to continue across parts of Texas, the western Gulf Coast and southern Florida.

'Long road ahead':Slow recovery after deadly tornadoes slam Iowa; East Coast braces for storms

Dozens sought shelter at truck stop, gas station in Cooke County, Texas

The storm had struck a nearby travel center and gas station complex where more than 60 residents had sought shelter, according to Sappington. Dozens of motorists abandoned their vehicles on a highway and sought shelter at a nearby struck stop as the tornado swept through the area.

Everyone survived but it took rescue teams about an hour to free people who were trapped in the wreckage, according to officials. Search and rescue efforts were also complicated by downed trees and power lines that blocked access to roads, Sappington said.

A National Weather Service official told Reuters that the Valley View tornado packed top winds of 135 miles per hour. Multiple twisters had struck the region, but the exact number had yet to be determined, she said.

Authorities spent Sunday wrapping up initial search-and-rescue operations, according to Abbott. He said authorities were searching for possible additional victims but there were no reports of missing people by the end of the day.

Threat of storms delays Indianapolis 500

Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials delayed the start of Sunday's Indianapolis 500 because of impending inclement weather in central Indiana and asked the 125,000-plus fans inside the venue to exit the grandstands and the Snake Pit and seek shelter. IMS announced approximately 345,000 tickets were purchased for the race.

The race had been delayed at about 11:35 a.m. and rain reached the racetrack at around the time of the originally scheduled 12:45 p.m. start and continued for more than an hour.

"Given the proximity of lightning moving toward (IMS), a decision has been made to pause the pre-race run of show and move fans out of the grandstands and the Snake Pit," speedway officials said in a statement. "Spectators ... should exit the grandstands in an orderly fashion and implement their personal safety plans."

IMS officials cleared fans to return to the grandstands at about 2:05 p.m. Sunday after conditions cleared in the area. Trucks and powerful dryers had circled the track to dry the 2.5-mile oval.

Nathan Brown and Scott Horner, Indianapolis Star

IMS delays start of Indy 500:Fans asked to vacate grandstands and Snake Pit to seek shelter

Power outages, tornado warnings across Kentucky

In Kentucky, a man was killed Sunday after he was struck by a tree in east Louisville, Louisville Metro Police spokesperson Matthew Sanders said. More than 200,000 homes and businesses across the state were without power Sunday afternoon, hours after a tornado was observed near Mayfield. The town of 10,000 people was hit with a tornado in 2021 that killed at least nine people,The Courier Journal previously reported.

The National Weather Service in Paducah warned that more storms were on the way.

"Several of you are cleaning up after the morning storms and (we) hope that you are safe in doing so!" the weather service said on social media. "Unfortunately, there will be more storms building this afternoon. The storms will be capable of very large hail, 70 mph or greater and tornadoes."

A severe thunderstorm warning for Louisville included "destructive" winds up to 80 mph, according to an alert from the weather service. Earlier, winds of up to 63 mph were reported at the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport, the weather service said.

Some storms move on, but dangers remain

Sappington said enough first responders were on the scene in Texas to conduct a thorough search and rescue effort in the storm-ravaged area. He urged people to stay away from the scene.

"I know some people were out of the area and trying to get back, but it's dangerous out there," he said. "Power lines are down. There's been reports of gas leaks. ... We're trying to still rescue people. The best thing people can do right now is give us a little time."

Fatalities possible in Oklahoma

In the Green Country area of northeastern Oklahoma, kjrh.com reported two deaths in the town of Pryor but had no details. In Claremore, Oklahoma, 30 miles east of Tulsa, police announced the city was effectively shut down because of downed power lines and blocked roads. Dozens of injuries were reported. "Only residents and those with legitimate reasons to enter will be allowed," police said in a social media post. "The cleanup phase is just beginning and will take time."

The National Weather Service office in Tulsa warned the storms were not finished.

"A few strong to severe storms will again be possible this afternoon and evening across portions of far eastern Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas," the National Weather Service office in Tulsa reported. "Large hail and damaging winds will be the primary threats."

Hiding in a cooler in Denton, Texas

In Denton, south of Cooke County, the fire department reported sending a rescue team and medics to a marina on Lake Ray Roberts. "Multiple victims, some reported trapped," the department said on social media, adding that major damage was reported along the county line.

Homes, businesses and boats were battered. Leann Peterson said she thought the storm would roll north of the area. When it didn't, a local business owner suggested people take cover in a restaurant's walk-in cooler.

"We got in the cooler just in time and all these people started coming in, thank God, and when it hit, it was just so loud," she told nbcdfw.com. "It was like something just crashed into us. I didn't realize how bad until we came out."

Contributing: Leo Bertucci, Louisville Courier Journal; Reuters

'Dangerous out there': 15 dead as tornadoes slam multiple states in the South: Updates (2024)

FAQs

'Dangerous out there': 15 dead as tornadoes slam multiple states in the South: Updates? ›

Powerful storms and tornadoes sweeping across the nation's midsection Sunday killed at least 15 people in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kentucky, injuring scores, knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across the region, and delaying the start of the iconic Indianapolis 500.

What state has the most dangerous tornadoes? ›

The state with the most number of tornadoes classified as "violent", or F4 and F5, is Kentucky, and the state with the highest average intensity ranking for tornadoes is Alabama.

What state has had the most EF5 tornadoes? ›

Alabama and Oklahoma have recorded the greatest number of tornadoes with a rating of 5 on the Fujita/Enhanced Fujita Scale, each with seven such twisters since 1950.

What was the worst tornado in history? ›

This article lists various tornado records. The most "extreme" tornado in recorded history was the Tri-State tornado, which spread through parts of Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana on March 18, 1925.

Where are the most tornadoes in South America? ›

South America, much like other continents, has its own tornado hotspot, known as “pasillo de los tornados.” This tornado corridor includes Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and a portion of Brazil.

Which state is most at risk for a tornado? ›

Texas is by far America's most active state for tornadoes, averaging 151 twisters each year. In a distant second place is Kansas, with an annual average of 91 tornadoes.

What state has had the most tornadoes in 2024? ›

2024 has seen the most tornadoes in over a decade with 99 occurring within Texas. This year has been quite an active severe weather season so far. A confirmed tornado touched down at the Midland International Air & Space Port, causing damage to power lines and several industrial buildings.

What state has never had a tornado? ›

Explanation: There are no states in the United States that have never seen a tornado. Tornadoes can occur in any state, though they are more frequent in certain areas known for severe weather patterns, such as the central United States, which includes Tornado Alley.

Has there ever been a F6 tornado? ›

In total, two tornadoes received the rating of F6, but both were later downgraded to F5. Based on aerial photographs of the damage it caused, Fujita assigned the strongest tornado of the 1974 Super Outbreak, which affected Xenia, Ohio, a preliminary rating of F6 intensity ± 1 scale.

Where is Tornado Alley in 2024? ›

Tornado Alley has roared back to life, a major shift from recent years when twisters favored the Gulf Coast states and Tennessee Valley. The majority of tornadoes in 2024 have touched down in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Ohio has also experienced a surge in tornadoes, with 54 reports so far.

Do they have tornadoes in Russia? ›

Australia, France, Russia, areas of the Middle East, and Japan have a history of multiple damaging tornado events.

What tornado killed the most people? ›

The Tri-State Tornado

On March 18, 1925, the deadliest single tornado in the history of the United States occurred. The enormous storm affected people in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana, hence the name. As a result, almost 700 people were killed and over 2,000 were injured.

What is the longest tornado ever recorded? ›

Tornado: Longest-Lasting/Greatest Distance Traveled Single Tornado
Record Value352.4 km (219 mi.) / 3 ½ hours duration
Date of Event18/3/1925
Geospatial LocationEllington, Missouri to Princeton Indiana

Does China get tornadoes? ›

While tornadoes do not occur as frequently in China as they do in the US, they do happen. A peer-reviewed scientific article from 2015 found that China averages fewer than 100 tornadoes per year, and that at least 1,772 people had died from tornadoes in the country in the 50 years since 1961.

Does Africa get tornadoes? ›

Tornadoes occur in many parts of the world, including Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America.

What is the number one state for tornadoes? ›

The number in each state depicts the average annual number of tornadoes based on the 20-year period from 2003 to 2022. The two most active states for tornadoes are Texas, with 124, and Kansas, with 87, in an average year.

What state gets the least tornadoes? ›

The states with the fewest tornadoes

Alaska. Delaware. Hawaii. Maine.

What states get the worst weather? ›

The worst 10 states on the list: Ohio, Illinois, Maine, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Michigan, Minnesota, and finally, North Dakota takes the crown as the most miserable wintertime state.

What are the three deadliest tornadoes of the US? ›

Storm Prediction Center
DATEDEATHS
118 Mar 1925695
206 May 1840317
327 May 1896255
405 Apr 1936216
21 more rows

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