Tornados leave trail of destruction as 4 injured, hundreds of homes damaged

Written by on April 28, 2024

ABC News

Severe weather left a trail of destruction in the Heartland on Friday with 83 reports of tornadoes across five states.

The multi-day tornado outbreak continued Saturday, with powerful storms expected from Texas to the Great Lakes.

Emergency officials in Hughes County, Oklahoma, confirmed one death due to storms in Holdenville.

There is a tornado watch in effect for parts of six states, from Texas to Iowa into the late evening. This watch will likely expand east slightly as the day wears on.

A moderate risk — level 4 out of 5 — is in the outlook for parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri Saturday, with storms expected to flare up again in the afternoon and evening across a huge area of the country. There is a chance for strong long-track tornadoes as well as very large hail up to 3 inches in diameter and thunderstorm winds up to 80 mph.

In addition to dozens of tornado reports, Friday saw 33 damaging wind reports and 60 large hail reports.

In Iowa, four people were injured Friday and approximately 120 structures were damaged after severe weather hit Pottawattamie County, officials in that county said.

The city of Minden was the hardest hit area in Friday’s storms, according to the county. Gas and power have been disrupted, and a 10 p.m. curfew has been issued until further notice.

Gov. Kim Reynolds, Pottawattamie County, and the City of Minden have all declared a state of emergency.

Severe damage was also reported across eastern Nebraska, including Douglas County, where hundreds of homes were damaged in the Omaha area Friday.

Preliminary information suggests that two “strong, rare tornadoes” touched down in Douglas County, Chris Franks with the National Weather Service said during a press briefing on Saturday. The National Weather Service found evidence of EF-2 and EF-3 tornado damage there following Friday’s storms, Franks said.

No fatalities have been reported so far following the storms, officials said.

“For that big of a storm, to have the property damage that was so extensive, without the loss of life,” Douglas County Emergency Management Paul Johnson said at the press briefing. “It’s a tremendous attribute to the city of Omaha.”

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen urged people to continue to stay safe as the storm threat continues into Saturday evening.

There have been seven tornado reports so far Saturday. One tornado emergency was issued for Knox City, Texas, where a large and damaging tornado was reported near the town. Baseball-sized hail was also reported with this tornadic storm.

A tornado was confirmed Saturday near the intersection of Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri. The confirmed tornado was eight miles north of Robinson, Kansas.

All modes of severe weather are likely on Saturday.

Damaging winds, huge hail, and long-track tornadoes are all in the cards, especially in Kansas, Oklahoma and northeast Texas. Overall, there is a severe weather threat stretching across the central U.S. from Canada to Mexico.

The threat for these dangerous storms continues into the overnight hours.

In addition to the thunderstorm threat, there is also a flash flood risk with this major storm system.

A flood watch is in effect for eight states from Texas to Iowa until Monday afternoon. This is because heavy downpours may dump significant rainfall in a short time and lead to dangerous flash flooding.

More than 2 to 5 inches of rain may be falling in a short period of time, prompting the Weather Prediction Center to issue a Moderate Risk for Excessive Rainfall from Texas to Missouri.

“Confidence continues to be high in a major flash flood event unfolding for portions of east-central Oklahoma with higher end rainfall totals Saturday beginning late this evening into Saturday night,” the Weather Prediction Center said.

A “high risk” for excessive rainfall is the greatest level threat possible. One-third of all flood-related fatalities occur in high-risk areas. It is a rare and serious life-threatening flood event forecast that leads to a high-risk issuance.

The National Weather Service will be conducting damage surveys this weekend to determine the number of confirmed tornadoes, as well as the intensity ratings and other details.

On Sunday, the threat is reduced, but still there is a chance for damaging wind, large hail and a few tornadoes from Austin, Texas, to Davenport, Iowa, and includes Shreveport, Louisiana; Little Rock, Arkansas; Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri.

ABC News’ Victoria Arancio contributed to this report.

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