(Reuters) – Tornadoes on Tuesday left five people dead in Oklahoma and two in Kansas, officials said.
The storms plowed through small communities, including El Reno, a town of 15,000 in Canadian County west of Oklahoma City, leaving cars overturned and ripping roofs off houses and the steeple off a church.
Four of the confirmed deaths in Oklahoma were in Canadian County, said Michaelann Ooten, Deputy Director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.
A fifth was in a mobile home in Chickasha southwest of Oklahoma City, according to Captain Chris Calhoun of the Chickasha fire department.
Statewide, there were 60 injuries, and 58,000 were without power, Ooten said.
By 9:30 p.m. all the tornado warnings in Oklahoma had expired and the National Weather Service said the outbreak of violent weather, which started in the northwest region of the state and continued through central and south central Oklahoma, was over.
About five separate tornadoes made landfall in Oklahoma, said Rick Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Norman. Oklahoma City and Norman were spared, but smaller towns to the northwest, south and southeast of Oklahoma City sustained damage.
“This was unfortunately what we’ve been forecasting for several days,” Smith told Reuters. “Tomorrow will be quiet — no rain, no storms, which will be good.”
In Kansas, two people died near the town of St. John, state emergency management spokeswoman Sharon Watson said.
Steve Moody, the fire chief for St. John, told Reuters: “A family driving down Highway 281 pulled into a driveway and that was exactly where the tornado came through. A large-diameter tree fell on the car, killing two occupants.” – Source