Search and rescue teams are scouring the rubble in Arkansas and Oklahoma after the year's worst tornado outbreak yet left at least 16 people dead across three states and caused widespread destruction of property
Updated 1:26 p.m. ET
Tornadoes tore through the American Midwest and South on Sunday, killing at least 18 people in three states—14 in central Arkansas, one in Oklahoma in a cyclone’s wake and one in Iowa.
Authorities are reporting that a tornado touched down 10 miles west of the Arkansas state capital Little Rock, causing widespread devastation in the suburban communities of Mayflower and Vilonia. Authorities initially said 16 people had died in Arkansas but later revised that to 14 because two people were counted twice, the Associated Press reports.
“What I am seeing, it is a lot of damage. I’ve been listening to the rescue folks. They’re saying people have to be extracted from vehicles,” Vilonia Mayor James Firestone told CNN. “It looks pretty bad. From what I understand, there has been a subdivision that’s been leveled.”
The tornado was reportedly on and off the ground for a total of 80 miles, cutting large swaths of destruction to the west and north of Little Rock.
“It sounded like a constant rolling, roaring sound,” Mayflower resident Becky Naylor told the Associated Press. “Trees were really bending, and the light poles were actually shaking and moving. That’s before we shut the door, and we’ve only shut the door to the storm cellar two times.”
Just two hours before the tornado touched down in Arkansas, another cyclone unleashed havoc farther to the west in the tiny town of in Quapaw, Okla., where one resident died and six were injured.
— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) April 28, 2014
Tornadoes were sighted in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri throughout Sunday as heavy storm cells ripped across the Great Plains.
Meteorologists are forecasting that severe weather, including tornadoes, hail and heavy winds could continue to pound the Midwest and Southeast throughout the beginning of the week. According to the Weather Channel, conditions are ripe for more tornadoes from east Texas across large swaths of the Plains up into Illinois.