DALLAS (AP) — A spate of tornadoes raked across the Southern Plains, leaving damage and causing few injuries, and parts of the region were bracing for more severe thunderstorms and possible flooding.
The National Weather Service confirmed an EF2 twister Saturday morning with winds up to 130 mph (209 kph) that destroyed at least two homes and left one person with minor injuries in southwestern Oklahoma.
A suspected tornado caused roof damage to „numerous” homes in northwestern Arkansas, a state official said, and severe winds downed trees and power lines across a highway, blocking all lanes.
Energy companies in Oklahoma and Arkansas reported tens of thousands of customers were without power Saturday afternoon.
Tornadoes touched down Friday in Kansas and rural parts of Nebraska, tearing up trees and powerlines, and damaging some homes and farm buildings, according to the National Weather Service.
In Abilene, Texas, a city 150 miles (240 kilometers) west of Fort Worth, strong winds prompted the evacuation of a nursing home and left numerous homes and businesses damaged, according to the Abilene Reporter-News . A spokeswoman for the city said no deaths or serious injuries were reported.
The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch until 8 p.m. Saturday for the western half of Arkansas. Portions of North Texas also were under a tornado watch and a flash flood warning was issued in the Dallas area Saturday afternoon.
Forecasters warned of heavy rain, lightning, pingpong ball-sized hail and flooding as a line of storms moves west to east through afternoon, covering an area from south of Killeen, Texas, to north of the Oklahoma state line.
In Oklahoma City, thunderstorms prevented workers from securing and removing glass from Devon Tower, which was damaged Wednesday when a scaffolding holding two window washers banged against the building, The Oklahoman reported. Officials said the rain and winds blew broken glass from the tower and compromised the integrity of other panes.
News Tornadoes roar through nation: ‘All the windows exploded, it was just chaos’
In Louisiana, a gas station and other buildings in and around Ville Platte were destroyed early Sunday by a possible tornado, emergency management officials reported. In nearby Mamou, a Facebook post showed a battered home that had been shoved onto a highway by high winds, completely blocking the road.”Y’all. There is a whole house on L’anse Meg road in Mamou….Literally,” area resident Karoline Bieber Deshotels posted on Facebook. „The lady is ok. Her house and car not so much.”A plethora of tornado reports began rolling in Friday in Nebraska and Kansas. On Saturday, almost a dozen were reported in Texas and Oklahoma. In Texas, the National Weather Service Abilene/San Angelo concluded that an EF2 tornado with winds of up to 135 mph damage homes in San Angelo.Dru Lewis was hunkered down with his family as the storm battered his home.”There was a suction … from under the door, I could feel it,” he said. „Then all the windows just exploded. It was just chaos from there until the storm died down.”At about the same time, a possible EF2 tornado with winds up to 135 mph was reported 250 miles to the north near Geronimo, Oklahoma. At least two homes were destroyed in the twister that hit one day after county courthouse employees conducted a tornado drill.More possible tornadoes were scattered around the two states later Saturday, damaging buildings but resulting in no deaths.Monday could be the worst of it, forecasters warned.”Severe thunderstorms capable of all severe hazards, including strong tornadoes, are expected across portions of the southern Plains on Monday,” the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center said.As the Memorial Day weekend rolls in, look for a „death ridge” of heat in the Southeast, forecasters warned.”Extreme heat and very dry conditions for extended period of time. Days 6-10 averages are 8-10°F above normal in the ensemble mean.” meteorologist Ryan Maue tweeted. „Huge signal for record highs — and long duration!”Contributing: John Tufts, Jen Killin-Guadarrama and Samuel Sutton, San Angelo Standard-Times