OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Tornadoes swept across portions of the Plains on Monday, killing an Oklahoma man at the start of what is expected to be a period of unsettled weather in the nation’s midsection.
An emergency management director said a man believed to be in his upper 70s died when a tornado hit a home near Wynnewood, south of Oklahoma City. The storm was considered so violent that forecasters declared a “tornado emergency” for communities in the twister’s path.
“You are in a life-threatening situation,” forecasters declared while warning the communities of Roff, population 725, and Hickory, population 71. “Flying debris will be deadly to those caught without shelter.”
The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, had warned that a “substantial tornado risk” could develop in portions of the Southern Plains and Ozarks late Monday, and that other storms could produce twisters as far north as Nebraska and Iowa.
The bad weather should settle in the Ohio and Tennessee valleys on Tuesday, forecasters said, while another storm system should bring bad weather to the area from north Texas to near St. Louis on Wednesday.
Monday’s series of violent thunderstorms dropped tornadoes near Oklahoma City and in the rolling hills south of the city, destroying some homes and barns. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol closed Interstate 35 near Wynnewood for 15 minutes Monday so the storm could pass, temporarily shutting down the primary route between Oklahoma City and Dallas.
Garvin County Emergency Management Director Bud Ramming said early Monday evening that the fatality was the only known injury reported to his office.
Television images showed homes destroyed, multiple overturned vehicles and trees torn limb to limb. A roof lay near a hay barn after the first tornado reports.
Meteorologists said twisters with wind speeds above 111 mph were possible from eastern Oklahoma to central Arkansas. Hail 2 inches or more in diameter is possible from eastern Texas to southeastern Kansas.
About 41 million people from Houston to Sioux City, Iowa, were at risk for some type of stormy weather.
While the threat was less farther north, forecasters issued a tornado warning for a storm near Lincoln, Nebraska.