Severe storms claim 18 lives in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas

Severe storms wreaked havoc over the weekend, resulting in the tragic loss of at least 18 lives across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas. The devastating impact of these storms was confirmed by the Associated Press, with updated information from Arkansas revealing the extent of the destruction late Sunday night.

Officials have reported a total of 25 tornadoes across the five affected states.

Texas hit hard

According to Governor Greg Abbott, the severe weather that hit Texas resulted in the tragic loss of seven lives and left over one hundred individuals injured. This devastating impact was shared during a news conference held on Sunday evening.

According to Abbott, disaster declarations have been issued in 106 counties in Texas.

According to Texas officials, the recent tornado activity resulted in the destruction of over 200 homes or structures, with an additional 120 being damaged. Preliminary assessments indicate that the tornado was an EF2 with winds reaching 125 mph.

Abbott expressed his deep sorrow for the lives lost in the storms, emphasizing the irreplaceable nature of human lives. He emphasized the importance of prioritizing life above all else during any type of storm. Abbott said, “There’s only one thing that cannot be rebuilt, and that’s a loss of life. That’s why we always stress to everybody, whatever you do in any type of storm, put life first.”

Two young children, aged 2 and 5, tragically lost their lives in Cooke County, Texas. The authorities confirmed that these siblings were among the seven individuals who lost their lives in this northern Dallas area. The Cooke County Sheriff’s Office shared this heartbreaking news with The Associated Press on Sunday.

The tornado that swept through Cooke County was initially classified as an EF-2 tornado, with wind speeds reaching up to 135 mph.

According to Sheriff Ray Sappington of Cooke County, Texas, the storm ripped through a roadside travel center near Valley View, Texas, before barreling through a community of manufactured homes.

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According to a statement made by an official from Dallas-Fort Worth ABC affiliate WFAA, over 60 individuals sustained injuries.

The majority of those deaths took place at the nearby FRF Estates in Valley View, a community of manufactured homes located approximately 60 miles northwest of Dallas, as stated by Sappington.

Emergency response crews were searching the development for survivors on Sunday morning, following “major damage,” according to his statement.

According to Sappington, the Gateway AP Travel Center in Valley View experienced significant damage during the storm. Many individuals sought shelter in the parking lot or the restrooms of the truck stop. Sappington reported that approximately 60 to 80 people sustained injuries at this location.

The Cooke County Sheriff’s Office stated on Sunday morning that the storm has inflicted considerable damage on many homes and businesses. Among the affected establishments is the Gateway AP Travel Center, which suffered major damage. As a result, emergency services are currently engaged in actively searching through the debris for any missing individuals. Moreover, there have been reports of multiple injuries of varying degrees.

Sappington issued a warning, urging individuals to avoid the storm-damaged regions while emergency crews conducted search and rescue operations and cleared roads of debris.

“It would be greatly appreciated if individuals could refrain from entering the area at this moment and allow us a few hours to carry out our search and rescue operations,” expressed Sappington. “We understand that some people may be trying to return to the area, but it is currently hazardous. There are downed power lines and reports of gas leaks. The situation is quite perilous. Kindly grant us the necessary time to fulfill our duties. Our primary focus is still on rescuing individuals. The most helpful action individuals can take right now is to grant us some time.”

A landslide in Bella Vista, Texas, has caused the closure of both directions of Highway 340, as reported by the Bella Vista Police Department. The heavy rains have washed out the ground beneath the roadway, resulting in the compromise of the road surface.

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2 killed in Arkansas, officials say

At least two fatalities were reported in Arkansas after an alleged tornado struck on Sunday morning. The northwest region of the state, specifically Benton County, witnessed the unfortunate demise of one individual. In addition, a 26-year-old woman was tragically found dead outside a demolished residence in Olvey, located in Boone County. The devastating impact of the tornado has resulted in these heartbreaking losses.

During a news conference, Benton County Judge Barry Moehring reported that apart from the two fatalities, there were also multiple individuals who sustained injuries in Benton County.

One tornado likely tore through the town of Decatur in Benton County, while two additional tornadoes seemed to touch down near Beaver Lake, according to Moehring.

The storm wreaked havoc, toppling trees and powerlines in its path. Bentonville experienced significant damage, with the courthouse sustaining destruction, as a result of powerful straight-line winds, according to Moehring.

Emergency crews are currently responding to reports of individuals trapped in the debris, he stated.

The downtown area of Rogers, Arkansas, located in Benton County, experienced extensive damage as depicted in photos shared by the local police department on Facebook. Reports indicate that the Rogers Police Department is currently engaged in search and rescue efforts to locate survivors and evaluate the extent of the destruction.

The Rogers Police Department took to Facebook to address the issue of people driving around barricades and hindering their response time. They emphasized the importance of keeping the streets clear for emergency vehicles, stating, “All our major streets have trees or are closed, and we are still responding and trying to get to calls. Too many cars on the streets hamper our response.” The department urged the public to refrain from driving around barricades and to prioritize the safety and efficiency of emergency services.

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2 deaths in Oklahoma

According to the Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, a possible tornado struck Pryor, Oklahoma, resulting in the unfortunate loss of at least two lives. This devastating incident occurred approximately 45 miles east of Tulsa, as reported by KTUL, the local ABC affiliate in Tulsa.

Latest forecasts

Multiple rounds of strong storms are possible on Sunday as the threat of more severe weather shifts eastward over parts of the Mississippi and Ohio River valley.

The National Weather Service has issued tornado watches for parts of central Kentucky and western and middle Tennessee. These watches will remain in effect until 3 p.m. CT on Sunday. The affected areas include cities such as Louisville, Bowling Green, Nashville, and Knoxville.

Severe storms are expected to sweep across a large area of the Great Plains on Sunday night and advance into Iowa. This comes as residents in Iowa are still recovering from the aftermath of a devastating series of hurricanes that ravaged the Des Moines area on Tuesday night. The town of Greenfield was particularly hard-hit, with extensive damage and four tragic fatalities reported.

Severe storms are predicted to occur in several states including Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, northern Tennessee, and the southwestern edge of Ohio. These areas are at an increased risk of experiencing damaging winds, hail, and tornadoes.

Potentially dangerous flash flooding is forecasted from Sunday afternoon and into Sunday night from southern Missouri to much of Kentucky, in addition to the severe thunderstorm and tornado threats.

Strong, slow-moving thunderstorms are forecasted for Sunday afternoon, posing a significant risk of torrential rain and flash flooding in multiple states. The areas most susceptible to flooding are southern Illinois, particularly around Carbondale, as well as Tennessee and Kentucky.

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