Deadly Tornadoes Strike the Southern Plains

May 26, 2011; 6:01 AM ET
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"...at least 15 people have been killed by tornadoes and many more are missing."


Tornadoes continued to rampage across parts of eastern Oklahoma and northern Texas on Tuesday evening before barging into Missouri and Arkansas overnight. Many large tornadoes tracked across the southern Plains on Tuesday evening with damage reported in many areas.

According to the Associated Press, at least 15 people have been killed by tornadoes and many more are missing. The tornadoes ripped through Kansas and central Oklahoma on Tuesday evening. On Tuesday night, the violent thunderstorms shifted eastward into Arkansas, Missouri and Iowa.

There have been nearly four dozen reports of tornadoes from this outbreak of severe weather as of 9:00 a.m. CDT.

This is the second time in three days that deadly tornadoes have struck. Another day of tornadoes is predicted today, including in the more populated areas of the Mississippi and Ohio valleys.

Follow @breakingweather on Twitter for updates.

Missouri and Arkansas:

At least one death occurred as a tornado demolished much of the town of Denning, Ark., home to approximately 270 people. Rescue operations were slowed due to downed trees and power lines across roadways.

A tornado warning was issued for a time in Joplin, Mo., and surrounding areas on Tuesday night. The storm-ravaged town avoided another direct hit, as the supercell moved north of Joplin.

However, powerful thunderstorms roared through the city through the night.

The thunderstorms also trounced parts of Arkansas on Tuesday night. At least two people were killed as the storms tore through Franklin and Johnson counties in the northwestern part of the state.

Texas:

A large wedge tornado was sighted on the ground on the south side of Dallas, forcing people east of Dallas to take cover as the thunderstorm spawning the tornado continues to shift eastward.

A possible tornadic supercell moved dangerously near the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport before a tornado struck southern Dallas. Flights were delayed and waiting passengers moved away from terminal windows.

Fans at the Texas Rangers game were moved from the upper decks to underground tunnels inside the park as the thunderstorms neared. Golf ball-sized hail pounded the stadium.

There were more than 40 reports of tornadoes on Tuesday. (NOAA Image)

Oklahoma and Kansas:

The suburbs of Oklahoma City were hit hard by tornadoes as well. An estimated to be EF-4 tornado struck to the north of the city, and local TV stations show all that is left of some homes are the foundations.

At least seven people are dead with dozens more injured by the tornadoes in Oklahoma near El Reno and Piedmont. At least 30 homes have been destroyed.

These tornadoes were rain-wrapped -- much like the deadly tornado that touched down in Joplin, Mo., on Sunday -- making them hard to see and hear. The darkness of night made it even harder to see the violent twisters that touched down.

Numerous damage reports swarmed in overnight, from downed power lines and trees to cars tossed off roadways. Severe thunderstorm winds of 100 mph were measured in Craig County, Okla., while a wind gust of 80 mph was recorded Pratt, Kan.

Baseball- to softball-sized hail was reported in Pierceville, Kan. Hail was also reported to cover the ground in Timkin, Kan.

Four tractor trailers were overturned in Haskell, Kan., alone, with many other similar incidents throughout the central and southern Plains.

Content contributed by meteorologists Meghan Evans and Katie Storbeck

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