Severe thunderstorms will continue to threaten parts of the south-central United States Saturday morning after a powerful system that spawned tornadoes moved through the region, damaging homes in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
At least one person has been reported dead and there are ‘several missing’ in McCurtain County in southeastern Oklahoma, which suffered extensive storm damage after a possible tornado struck hit the town of Idabel, according to county emergency manager Cody McDaniel.
Authorities are still trying to determine the extent of the damage and injuries Friday night, he said, adding, “It’s not good.”
In Texas, near the state line with Oklahoma, at least 50 homes were damaged or destroyed in Lamar County Friday night, the sheriff’s office said.
Multiple tornado warnings were in effect in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri Friday night, meaning tornadoes would have been reported on the ground or indicated by weather radar. The weather service recommends that residents of warning zones move to a safe place such as a basement or an interior room.
A preliminary tally Friday night from the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center shows nine tornadoes formed in Texas, four in Arkansas and one in Oklahoma.
Nighttime tornadoes can be particularly dangerous because they can be difficult to see as they move quickly through an area, and it is also more difficult to ensure residents are warned during these hours.
Additionally, more than 100,000 homes and businesses were without power in Arkansas, Louisiana, southeast Oklahoma and east Texas as of early Saturday, according to Poweroutage.us.
Most of the Texas tornadoes reported occurred along the Red River border with Oklahoma, with widespread damage reported in two counties.
The National Weather Service confirmed late Friday that a tornado moving at 45 mph was detected over the town of Wrightsville in Pulaski County, Arkansas, just south of Little Rock.
The number of recorded tornadoes will likely increase on Saturday, and the intensity of each won’t be known until local National Weather Service offices conduct damage surveys, which can take several days.
A sudden onset of cold weather in unusually warm conditions was predicted to create the greatest tornado threat the United States had seen in more than five months.
A severe thunderstorm watch remains in effect for parts of eastern Arkansas, northwest Mississippi and western Tennessee until 4 a.m. local time Saturday.
Officials in Lamar County, Texas declared a disaster after at least 10 people were injured when a tornado ripped through the area, according to a news release from the county sheriff’s office. No deaths have been reported.
Two of the injured suffered serious injuries, the sheriff’s office said. Earlier Friday, a first responder was injured during storms in the county and underwent surgery, County Constable Steven Hill told CNN.
“There was quite a bit of damage and a few injuries,” Lamar County Constable Travis Rhodes told CNN Friday night.
In neighboring Hopkins County, at least four homes were damaged Friday, according to the county sheriff’s office.
A Choctaw County, Oklahoma woman was injured by a falling tree while trying to get to a storm shelter, Office of Management volunteer Lewis Collins told CNN. Choctaw ER. It is not known if a tornado has occurred in this area.
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt prays for those affected by the tornadoes.
“Search and rescue teams and generators have been dispatched to the Idabel area,” he said. “Storms hit Bryan, Choctaw and Le Flore counties, among others. Additional flash floods in some areas.
The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security is urging residents to report storm damage online to help coordinate their response.