Authorities say the death toll could rise as rescuers clear debris and reach people trapped in homes.
At least two people have died in the central United States as storms and tornadoes rip through the region, damaging infrastructure and destroying homes.
The National Weather Service (NWS) began issuing severe storm and tornado warnings on Wednesday. More storms are possible through Thursday, and the death toll is expected to rise as search and rescue efforts begin.
“It’s reasonable to expect possibly more based on the damage we’ve seen,” McClain County, Oklahoma Deputy Sheriff Scott Gibbons said on NBC’s Today Show about the possibility of more deaths.
The storms have left a path of destruction in central states like Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa, with both deaths occurring in McClain County.
7:46 a.m. CDT #SPC Day 1 Outlook Slight Risk: This Afternoon to Tonight from Northern IL to MO/AR and Central/Eastern TX https://t.co/TgJgC6cQZw pic.twitter.com/sA5lgWKHMS
— NWS Storm Prediction Center (@NWSSPC) April 20, 2023
County emergency services said they are responding to people trapped in their homes and that some people had been hospitalized for injuries sustained during the storm. The number of injured is not yet clear.
More than 16,000 people were without power in Oklahoma as of Thursday morning, according to the PowerOutage.us website. That number is less than 23,000 at the peak of severe weather.
The storms have spawned tornadoes across the southern, midwestern, and southeastern US this spring, killing scores of people, knocking out power, and destroying buildings and power lines.
Other regions of the country have also experienced fierce weather in recent months with major hurricanes hitting states like Florida, western states facing widespread flooding and extreme rainfall, and northern states hit by fierce winter storms.
In late March, 26 people were killed by tornadoes in Mississippi and Alabama. In early April, a series of tornadoes killed 32 people in states including Indiana, Illinois, and Arkansas. A tornado in Missouri killed five several days later.
Storms capable of producing more tornadoes are expected from Texas to Wisconsin Thursday night, according to the NWS Storm Prediction Center.
“A mix of supercells and cumulus storms is expected,” the center said.