Tornadoes kill 4 in Oklahoma, leaving trail of destruction and thousands without power (2024)

SULPHUR, Okla. (AP) — Tornadoes killed four people in Oklahoma, including an infant, and left thousands without power Sunday after a destructive outbreak of severe weather flattened buildings in the heart of one rural town and injured at least 100 people across the state.

More than 20,000 people were still without electricity hours after tornadoes began late Saturday night. The destruction was extensive in Sulphur, a town of about 5,000 people, where a tornado crumpled many downtown buildings, tossed cars and buses and sheared the roofs off houses across a 15-block radius.

“You just can’t believe the destruction,” Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said during a visit to the hard-hit town. “It seems like every business downtown has been destroyed.”

Stitt said about 30 people were injured in Sulphur, including some who were in a bar as the tornado struck. Hospitals across the state reported about 100 injuries, including people apparently cut or struck by debris, according to the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. An infant was among those killed, Hughes County Emergency Management Director Mike Dockrey told Oklahoma television station KOCO.

White House officials said President Joe Biden spoke to Stitt on Sunday and offered the full support of the federal government.

The deadly weather in Oklahoma added to the dozens of reported tornadoes that have wreaked havoc in the nation’s midsection since Friday. Another death was reported Sunday in Iowa, where officials in Pottawattamie County said a man critically injured during a tornado Friday had died.

In Oklahoma, authorities said the tornado in Sulphur began in a city park before barreling through the downtown, flipping cars and ripping the roofs and walls off of brick buildings. Windows and doors were blown out of structures that remained standing.

“How do you rebuild it? This is complete devastation,” said Kelly Trussell, a lifelong Sulphur resident as she surveyed the damage. “It is crazy, you want to help but where do you start?”

Carolyn Goodman traveled to Sulphur from the nearby town of Ada in search of her former sister-in-law, who Goodman said was at a local bar just before the tornado hit the area. Stitt said one of the victims was found inside a bar but authorities had not yet identified those killed.

“The bar was destroyed,” Goodman said. “I know they probably won’t find her alive ... but I hope she is still alive.”

Farther north, a tornado near the town of Holdenville killed two people and damaged or destroyed more than a dozen homes, according to the Hughes County Emergency Medical Service. Another person was killed along Interstate 35 near the southern Oklahoma city of Marietta, state officials said.

Tornadoes kill 4 in Oklahoma, leaving trail of destruction and thousands without power (4)

Heavy rains that swept into Oklahoma with the tornadoes also caused dangerous flooding and water rescues. Outside Sulphur, rising lake levels shut down the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, where the storms wiped out a pedestrian bridge.

Stitt issued an executive order Sunday declaring a state of emergency in 12 counties due to the fallout from the severe weather.

At the Sulphur High School gym, where families took cover from the storm, Jackalyn Wright said she and her family heard what sounded like a helicopter as the tornado touched down over them.

Chad Smith, 43, said people ran into the gym as the wind picked up. The rain started coming faster and the doors slammed shut. “Just give me a beer and a lawn chair and I will sit outside and watch it,” Smith said. Instead, he took cover.

Residents in other states were also digging out from storm damage. A tornado in suburban Omaha, Nebraska, demolished homes and businesses Saturday as it moved for miles through farmland and into subdivisions, then slammed an Iowa town.

Tornadoes kill 4 in Oklahoma, leaving trail of destruction and thousands without power (5)

The tornado damage began Friday afternoon near Lincoln, Nebraska. An industrial building in Lancaster County was hit, causing it to collapse with 70 people inside. Several were trapped, but everyone was evacuated, and the three injuries were not life-threatening, authorities said.

One or possibly two tornadoes then spent around an hour creeping toward Omaha, leaving behind damage consistent with an EF3 twister, with winds of 135 to 165 mph (217 to 265 kph), said Chris Franks, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service’s Omaha office.

Tornadoes kill 4 in Oklahoma, leaving trail of destruction and thousands without power (6)

Tornadoes kill 4 in Oklahoma, leaving trail of destruction and thousands without power (7)

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds spent Saturday touring the damage and arranging for assistance for the damaged communities. Formal damage assessments are still underway, but the states plan to seek federal help.

___

Associated Press journalists Acacia Coronado in Austin, Texas, and Sophia Tareen in Chicago contributed to this report.

Tornadoes kill 4 in Oklahoma, leaving trail of destruction and thousands without power (2024)

FAQs

Tornadoes kill 4 in Oklahoma, leaving trail of destruction and thousands without power? ›

SULPHUR, Okla. (AP) — Tornadoes killed four people in Oklahoma, including an infant, and left thousands without power Sunday after a destructive outbreak of severe weather flattened buildings in the heart of one rural town and injured at least 100 people across the state.

What town in Oklahoma was destroyed by the tornado? ›

The northeastern town of Barnsdall, Oklahoma (pop. 1000) suffered its second tornado strike of the year late Monday, May 6. Aerial imagery on Tuesday morning showed widespread destruction in Barnsdall, and at least one person was killed.

What was the most destructive tornado in Oklahoma history? ›

The most deadly tornado to ever strike within the borders of the state of Oklahoma occurred on Wednesday, April 9, 1947 in the city of Woodward.

How many tornadoes in Oklahoma in 2024? ›

According to a preliminary report from the NWS, the state of Oklahoma has seen 82 total tornadoes as of Tuesday morning.

Where were the tornadoes in Oklahoma yesterday? ›

KOCO 5 First Alert Storm Chasers saw tornadoes near Custer City, Yukon, Union City, Hydro, Mustang and El Reno. As the sun rises on Monday, we're getting a better view of the damage and destruction left behind. Below is what we know about the overnight tornado outbreak in Oklahoma.

What city in Oklahoma has the most tornadoes? ›

What city in Oklahoma has the most tornadoes? Oklahoma County — home to Oklahoma City and Edmond — see the most tornadoes each year, totaling 125 twisters from 1950 to 2021.

Has there ever been an 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.

What state has the worst 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.

How many F5 tornadoes has Oklahoma had? ›

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. Iowa, Kansas and Texas have each seen six EF-5/F-5 tornadoes.

Why does Oklahoma have so many tornadoes? ›

The combination of the Gulf of Mexico to the south and the Rocky Mountains to the west provides ideal environmental conditions for the development of tornadoes more often there than any other place on earth.

Which state holds the record for the most annual tornadoes? ›

Texas leads the nation in the number of tornadoes that occur each year on average, followed by Kansas. Texas leads the nation for the average number each year only because of its size.

In which three months do tornadoes peak in the state of Oklahoma? ›

Statistics. May is the peak month for all tornadoes, followed closely by April and June (Figure 2). About two thirds of all tornadoes in OKC have struck during those three months. Strong and violent tornadoes tend to occur slightly earlier, with April the peak month.

What was the worst tornado in Oklahoma history? ›

The most deadly tornado to ever strike within the borders of the state of Oklahoma occurred on Wednesday, April 9, 1947 in the city of Woodward.

Where are you safe from tornadoes in Oklahoma? ›

Tornado Safety

The safest place to be is a storm shelter built to FEMA guidelines and ICC 500 standards, or a basem*nt. If there's no storm shelter, get to the innermost room, hallway or closet on the lowest level of the building.

Where in Oklahoma did the 1982 F5 tornado occur? ›

Hamden-Speer–Hugo Reservoir-Messer–Golden–Broken Bow-Eagletown, Oklahoma
F5 tornado
on the Fujita scale
Overall effects
Injuries29

Where did the tornado hit in Mustang Oklahoma? ›

A tornado was on the ground near Mustang, doing damage in the area. KOCO 5 First Alert Storm Chaser Nick Smith captures the moments the tornado touched down near Cimarron Road and Reno Avenue. The storm was moving around at around 30 mph to the east toward the Oklahoma City area.

Is Minninnewah a real place? ›

Plot. Four families in the fictional Oklahoma town of Minninnewah, wrestle with undocumented immigration, closeted hom*osexuality, abortion, and other issues before a massive tornado wipes out the town, leaving death and destruction in its path.

What happened in the Moore Oklahoma tornado? ›

Another 12 people died as their homes were destroyed near the school. Moore Medical Center took a near direct hit and also sustained heavy damage. A convenience store was among the next buildings to get hit, killing three inside. Two more would die in their homes as the tornado moved east of I-35.

What Illinois town was wiped out by tornado? ›

Throughout the evening hours of April 9, 2015, an extremely violent and long-lived multiple-vortex tornado tore through the communities near Rochelle and in Fairdale, Illinois.

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