The destruction caused by a bevy of tornadoes Friday and early Saturday cast a wide net, impacting states across the South and Midwest. As of Sunday morning, the tornado outbreak has been responsible for at least 25 fatalities, according to NBC News. Nearly 80 preliminary tornado reports were sent to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center, with several of the tornadoes causing widespread damage. Here’s what the outbreak resulted in for the most affected states:
Five deaths were reported in Arkansas, including four confirmed in Wynne due to a tornado late Friday night, WJTV reported, citing Cross County Coroner Eli Long. Dozens of people sustained injuries in the city, which is located about 40 miles west of Memphis.
On Saturday, Wynne Mayor Jennifer Hobbs stated that search and rescue operations remained “our main priority,” along with clearing roadways and debris. Hobbs noted “agencies from all over Arkansas” have aided Wynne with equipment, operators, law enforcement and medical personnel.
“We would like to thank everyone who has reached out to offer assistance to the community, we are absolutely overwhelmed with the support from the communities across our state and the nation,” Hobbs said. “We would ask for continued thoughts and prayers for our citizens and the responding crews.”
The tornado also brought significant damage to Wynne High School, with Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying on Twitter that the Arkansas Department of Education is working with local school officials to “make a plan” for current students. “Anything they need, my administration is here to provide,” Sanders said.
One additional fatality was reported after a high-end EF3 tornado in the Little Rock area, according to Chris May, a news anchor for KATV. Photos from the damage in Little Rock showed downed trees, flipped cars and a handful of damaged buildings. One photo showed the gutted insides of a store, the roof torn from the structure and the insulation strewn across the remaining debris. Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr., said on Twitter Friday evening that at least 24 people were hospitalized due to the storm.
“It came so fast … I got up off my desk, grabbed my wallet, grabbed my phone and went downstairs,” Little Rock resident Jeff Turk told AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell. “Two minutes later, I heard the train and I felt the ear suck and I threw myself under a door … there was just like a smoke bomb had gone off.”
The tornado that tore through Little Rock was one part of the four tornado emergencies to be issued Friday evening. These alerts are typically reserved for rare situations when a severe threat to human life is imminent or ongoing, catastrophic damage is imminent or ongoing and reliable sources confirm a tornado, according to the National Weather Service.
Farther north, four deaths were reported in Illinois, including one in Belvidere, located about 70 miles to the northwest of Chicago. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said 48 people were hospitalized after a partial roof collapse at the town’s Apollo Theater during a sold-out concert. Pritzker said Sunday morning that five of those hospitalized remain in critical condition.
“I was there within a minute before it came down,” concertgoer Gabrielle Lewellyn told the Associated Press. “The winds, when I was walking up to the building, it went like from zero to a thousand within five seconds.” Police at the scene described the collapse as “chaos, absolute chaos,” according to the AP.
The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado impacted the area of the theater, and a survey crew found preliminary EF1 tornado damage associated with the tornado. The four deaths in Illinois were reported in Boone County, where the Apollo Theater is located, as well as Crawford County.
Another state heavily impacted in the Midwest, three deaths were reported in Indiana following tornadic storms. The city of Sullivan, located in southwestern Indiana, was pummeled by a tornado late Friday night with many homes sustaining severe damage, Sullivan Mayor Clint Lamb said. Lamb confirmed the three fatalities on Saturday morning, noting over 200 buildings had been damaged in the area. In the Bloomington, Indiana area, local scanner traffic reported “hundreds” of downed trees, as well as downed power lines.
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency told WCBI News that one person died and four others were injured in a tornado that hit Pontotoc, Mississippi, early Saturday morning. The deadly tornado came a week after four tornado emergencies were issued in Mississippi amid a dangerous tornado outbreak that killed at least 23 people across the South and spawned an EF4 tornado near the town of Rolling Fork.
Storms in northern Alabama left one woman dead and three others seriously injured Saturday morning after an EF3 tornado impacted the state. In Madison County, along the Alabama-Tennessee border, a local coroner confirmed that a woman was killed Saturday morning when a storm impacted her home, according to News 19. She was pronounced dead shortly after 4 a.m., local time. Madison County Commission Chairman Mac Mccutcheon reported that there were five injuries in total, with two people treated on scene and three others transported to a hospital in Huntsville, Alabama.
After touching down in northern Alabama, the EF3 tornado continued its path into Lincoln County, Tennessee, located in the far southern part of the state, early Saturday morning. Numerous structures and homes were heavily damaged and at least two homes sustained a complete collapse of walls, according to the National Weather Service.
Several other states were affected by the outbreak, including Ohio where damaging straight-line winds knocked out power to thousands. In Iowa, a preliminary low-end EF4 tornado caused extensive damage in Keokuk County, according to the National Weather Service. The tornado tracked from Wapello County to Johnson County, with estimated winds around 170 mph.
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