Tens of millions of people in the Midwest are on edge as forecasters warn severe conditions could continue for the next couple days. NBC News’ Jay Gray reports.
Tens of millions of people from Texas to the Great Lakes were warned Monday to brace for severe weather one day after a tornado outbreak killed two elderly men in Oklahoma and turned a trailer park into splinters.
The gravest threat appeared to be in Oklahoma and parts of Missouri, but forecasters warned that strong storms, damaging wind and pounding hail were possible as far north as Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Bill Waugh / Reuters
A vast area of the central U.S. was warned to prepare for storms on Monday, after tornadoes killed one and injured 21 in Oklahoma and also hit Iowa and Kansas.
In all, an area covering 55 million people was under risk of severe weather, the National Weather Service said.
On Sunday, twisters killed two men in Shawnee, Okla., ages 79 and 76, and injured 21 others. The state medical examiner confirmed the second death Monday morning.
The storms also destroyed mobile homes, flipped trucks and sent people across 100 miles running for cover. In Kansas, a weather forecaster was forced off the air as a tornado bore down on his station.
“You can see where there’s absolutely nothing, then there are places where you have mobile home frames on top of each other, debris piled up,” Mike Booth, the sheriff of Pottawatomie County, Okla., told The Associated Press. “It looks like there’s been heavy equipment in there on a demolition tour.”
The weather service office in Norman even posted a Twitter alert warning of a tornado about to strike one town:
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for 16 counties. In Edmond, Randy Grau said he looked out a window and saw what he thought was a flock of birds heading down the street.
“Then I realized it was swirling debris,” he told The Weather Channel. “That’s when we shut the door of the safe room.”
In Wichita, Kan., a tornado touched down near the airport. Two tornadoes touched down Sunday night outside Des Moines, Iowa.
The storm system is making a slow march east. Severe storms will threaten the same part of the country Tuesday and parts of the Northeast on Wednesday, the weather service said.
- One dead, 21 hurt as tornadoes ravage Plains states
- Anchors forced to evacuated during live broadcast
This story was originally published on Mon May 20, 2013 10:39 AM EDT