Emergency officials set out earlier today to see how much damage a violent burst of thunderstorms and tornadoes caused as it swept across the midwest overnight, killing at least nine and injuring dozens.
The storm toppled cars and left commuters trapped on an interstate highway as it bore down during Friday’s evening rush hour near Oklahoma City. The National Weather Service reported “several” tornadoes rolled in from the prairie, terrifying towns along their paths.
The storms brought another tense day for a region still reeling from the recent top-of-the-scale EF5 tornado that struck the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore on May 20, killing 24 and decimating neighborhoods. Many said they took severe weather warnings issued during the day Friday seriously.
Storm chasers with cameras in their cars transmitted video showing a number of funnels dropping from the supercell thunderstorm as it passed south of El Reno and into Oklahoma City just south of downtown. As the cell advanced, police urged motorists to leave the road and seek a safe place.
Violent weather also moved through the St Louis area. Early aerial images of the storm’s damage showed homes with porches ripped away, roofs torn off and piles of splintered wood scattered across the ground for blocks. Officials in St. Charles County also reported that local schools suffered some damage.
Among the nine dead in Oklahoma were a mother and a baby found in a vehicle. Amy Elliott, a spokeswoman for the state medical examiner, said the death toll was up to seven adults and two children. At least 75 people were hurt, five critically, hospital officials said.
Meteorologists had warned about particularly nasty weather on Friday but said the storm’s fury didn’t match that of the tornado that struck Moore. The Friday storm, however, brought with it much more severe flooding. It dumped around 200mm of rain on Oklahoma City in the span of a few hours and made the tornado difficult to spot for motorists trying to beat it home.
CNN and WeatherWatch