TIME natural disaster

Witness the Aftermath of Severe Floods in Texas

Texas expanded its state of disaster declaration on Monday following unprecedented torrential rains over the weekend. On Tuesday, more than 30 million Americans were warned to brace for extreme weather, including flooding, hail and tornadoes

TIME natural disaster

Arkansas Couple Dies Shielding Infant Daughter From Tornado

"I think they were together and trying to protect the child," a friend of the mother said

A couple living in Nashville, Arkansas, died after a tornado ripped though their home on Sunday night. However, neighbors who rushed help the husband and wife say they found them huddled around their 1-year-old daughter, who survived the incident unharmed.

The storm hit the mobile home where Melissa Mooneyhan, 29, and her husband Michael, 28, lived at about 11:20 p.m. on Sunday night. In an interview with KTHV News, Linda Purtell, a friend of Melissa Mooneyhan’s, said she felt the couple had died heroically.

“I think they were together and trying to protect the child,” Purtell said.

Howard County Coroner Howard Gray told KSLA News that the tornado flipped over the Mooneyhans’ trailer and “exploded” it.

“That poor little girl is never going to know them,” Gray said. “But she’s young enough that she’ll never remember what happened.”

This article originally appeared on People.

TIME weather

Official: Over 20 Injured, Homes Destroyed After Texas Storm

Severe Weather
Al Key—AP Lightning strikes as storm clouds pass in Denton, Texas, on May 10, 2015

"Our house is flat. There is nothing left," said Stephanie Lunder, 34

(VAN, Texas) — About two dozen people were injured and some homes were destroyed after a severe storm struck the small town of Van in northeast Texas, an emergency management official said.

The storm that the National Weather Service said likely produced a tornado hit the east side of Van Zandt County and the city of Van around 8:45 p.m. Sunday.

Chuck Allen, the Van Zandt County fire marshal and emergency management coordinator, said in an email early Monday morning that approximately 26 patients were transported to hospitals after a triage area was established at a church.

The extent of their injuries was not immediately clear.

About 30 percent of the city suffered some kind of damage, he said.

“Damages range from completely destroyed homes, damaged homes, to trees and power lines down,” Allen wrote.

Allen said authorities were going door to door in the city about 70 miles southeast of Dallas, performing a second search for additional injured individuals.

Utility companies are working to restore “vital infrastructures,” and road and bridge crews are working to open streets and highways to allow for first responder access, he said.

The American Red Cross will open a shelter at First Baptist Church in Van, Allen said. Calls to the church rang unanswered early Monday.

The Van Independent School District said on its website schools would be closed Monday.

The National Weather Service believes at least one tornado hit Van on Sunday night, senior meteorologist Eric Martello said. Weather Service crews will survey the area after daybreak Monday.

The storm was part of severe weather that stretched across North Texas on Sunday.

Earlier in the day, another likely tornado ripped roofs off buildings and damaged trees near Denton, about 40 miles northwest of Dallas, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Tom Bradshaw. There were no immediate reports of injuries or fatalities.

The area also experienced torrential rains that led to widespread flash flooding. Authorities in Denton County said Sunday that two groups of people had to be airlifted by helicopters to safety.

Tornadoes were also reported in central Iowa, where a roof was ripped off a high school, and in eastern South Dakota, where a twister damaged the small town of Delmont and injured at least nine people.

“Our house is flat. There is nothing left,” said Stephanie Lunder, 34, of Delmont. She was with her husband and four children in the basement when the storm hit.

The town about 90 miles southwest of Sioux Falls had no water, power or phones, South Dakota Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Kristi Turman said. The 200-plus residents were asked to leave for safety reasons.

TIME weather

More Storms Coming as Oklahoma Reels From Tornadoes, Floods

An antique car sits in a pile of debris following a tornado in Oklahoma City on May 7, 2015.
Jazz Bishop—Demotix/Corbis An antique car sits in a pile of debris following a tornado in Oklahoma City on May 7, 2015.

Oklahoma is still reeling from a rare combination of tornadoes and flash flooding from the latest round of thunderstorms

(OKLAHOMA CITY) — As the nation’s midsection braces for another bout of severe weather, many residents in Oklahoma are still reeling from a rare combination of tornadoes and flash flooding spawned from the latest round of thunderstorms that rumbled across the state.

Conditions appeared to be ripe on Friday and Saturday for storms that could produce even more powerful tornadoes across an area covering southern Kansas, western Oklahoma and parts of North Texas, said meteorologist John Hart of the Storm Prediction Center in Norman.

Storms that spawned 51 tornadoes in several southern Plains states late Wednesday also brought torrential downpours in central Oklahoma so heavy that a 43-year-old Oklahoma City woman drowned after becoming trapped inside her underground storm cellar.

“It just flooded with her in it, and she couldn’t get out because it was like a river coming down on top of her,” said police Sgt. Gary Knight. “I don’t recall it ever raining like that before.”

Skylyna Stewart’s body was discovered in an older, underground shelter detached from the home, and Knight and other emergency management officials said such cases are extremely rare.

The 7.1 inches that fell in Oklahoma City was the third highest rainfall for any day on record, dating back to 1890, said state climatologist Gary McManus, and radar data from the southeast part of the city where Skylyna Stewart’s body was recovered indicated as much as 8 to 12 inches may have fallen.

“Part of the problem was that we had gotten a lot of rain earlier,” McManus said. “The soils were moist, and the rain had nowhere to go.”

A few miles away in Moore, Kelly Ruffin said she and her family took shelter from the storms in an underground shelter installed in their garage when water from the heavy rains began leaking in.

“It was a heavy trickle at first, and within about 10 or 15 seconds, it was gushing,” Ruffin said. “We had to decide if we were going to stay down there and drown or get out, because the sirens were going off. We decided to get out.”

Blake Lee of F5 Storm Shelters & Safe Rooms has been installing shelters in Oklahoma for nearly five years and described the drowning as a “really, really freak deal.”

“It was a flash flooding situation, and we got more rain yesterday than we typically get in a month,” Lee said. “The underground garage model, to this day I’ve never heard of anyone dying in them.”

Blake said it’s not uncommon for an underground shelter to leak, and he encouraged people who have one to check them every few months to make sure they’re not filling up with water.

“If you’ve been doing this long enough, you’re going to have shelters that leak. It can happen,” he said. “But it’s a really easy fix.”

TIME weather

‘Extremely Dangerous’ Tornado Hits Iowa as Severe Weather Moves Across Midwest

Chicago is under tornado watch for much of the night

A “large and extremely dangerous tornado” touched down in eastern Iowa on Thursday evening, the National Weather Service reports, calling for Midwest communities to take caution as severe weather moved across the region.

The agency said the tornado was seen near Camanche at 6:45 p.m. ET and moving northeast at 40 mph. CNN reports the twister is one part of a severe weather system that could effect up to 95 million people on Thursday, notably in cities like St. Louis and Chicago.

The National Weather Service said Thursday that Chicago and much of central and northeastern Illinois would be under a tornado watch until 11 p.m. CT (midnight ET). A tornado was spotted earlier in the day in Illinois, and tornado watches are in effect for parts of nine other states, Weather.com reports.

TIME weather

Witness the Deadly Tornadoes That Hit Oklahoma

Tornadoes ripped through large portions of Oklahoma on Wednesday, marking the start of tornado season. The storm killed at least one person and left scores with damaged homes and tens of thousands of households with no power

TIME weather

Oklahoma Governor Declares State of Emergency After Deadly Tornadoes

First responders work to free a man from a rubble pile after a round of severe weather hit a trailer park in Sand Springs, Okla., on March 25, 2015.
Matt Barnard—Tulsa World/AP First responders work to free a man from a rubble pile after a round of severe weather hit a trailer park in Sand Springs, Okla., on March 25, 2015.

Tornado season has arrived

Oklahoma’s governor declared a state of emergency for 25 counties Thursday, a day after severe weather whipped through large swathes of state, resulting in one death and widespread power outages.

Governor Mary Fallin announced the declaration in the city of Moore, after touring a stricken elementary school, according to NBC News. No students or staff were injured at the school, which was closed when the tornado hit.

“It’s hard to believe that two years later, we’re back at a Moore public school, surveying damage,” Fallin said. “I am very thankful that this school did not sustain damage during school hours.”

Outside Tulsa, a tornado cut through a mobile home park in the suburbs of Sand Springs Wednesday night, killing at least one person and injuring three others.

“Right now, rescue efforts are continuing and officers are aiding the injured and helping those who need immediate medical care,” Shannon Clark, with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, told CNN. “It’s very tough conditions right now — very touch and go. The conditions my people are working in right now are deplorable at best.”

Further south, near Oklahoma City, officials reported that another tornado touched down outside the town of Moore, overturning vehicles, uprooting trees and injuring at least three people. However, no deaths were reported in the area.

Thousands of Oklahoma residents were without power early Thursday as officials mobilized rescue efforts.

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Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME natural disaster

See the Worst Natural Disasters of 2014

When it comes to acts of God, 2014 wasn’t a particularly active year. No powerful hurricane struck the U.S. like Sandy in 2012 or Katrina in 2005. There was no singlecatastrophic event like the Asian tsunami of 2004, which killed nearly 300,000 people, the Haiti earthquake of 2010, which killed over 200,000, or even the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland in 2010, which disrupted air travel for weeks.

But while there wasn’t a single iconic catastrophe, Mother Earth was still plenty busy in 2014. A volcano in Hawaii, a typhoon in the Philippines, wildfires in California and seven feet of snow in Buffalo—this year has witnessed its share of extreme weather and other natural disasters. The photos that follow are a reminder that when the Earth moves or the heavens strike, the results can be gorgeous to see—provided you’re not caught in the middle.

MORE: The most beautiful wildfire photos you’ll ever see

TIME weather

Tornado Does Damage to Revere, Mass.

“Given the magnitude of the storm, it’s really a miracle that no one sustained more serious injuries,” Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo told the Associated Press.

A storm that swept through the Boston area Sunday night hit the coastal city of about 53,000 people, leaving felled trees, shattered windows and rattled residents.

 

TIME weather

Suspected Tornado Kills at Least 2 at Virginia Campground

Virginia Storm Tornado
Jay Diem—Eastern Shore News/AP A tractor trailer truck lies on its side in the median of U.S. Route 13 while a fire engine responds to a nearby campground after a severe storm passed through the area, Cheriton, Va, July 24, 2014.

Campers at Cape Charles, Va. have been tweeting photos from the scene

Update 12:11pm

At least two people were killed and 20 injured when a suspected tornado touched down at a Virginia campground Thursday morning, leaving overturned campers and injuries in its wake.

Corinne Geller, a spokesperson for the Virginia Police Department, confirmed that the weather event had left two dead. Earlier reports from a local fire department had said there were three fatalities.

“It came in real quick,” Easterville volunteer firefighter Brittney Eder told the AP. “The sky turned jet black.”

At 8:38 am, the National Weather Service tweeted out a tornado warning for the area. The twister hit the Cherrystone Campground, near Cape Charles, shortly before 9 am.

While the weather incident can’t be confirmed as a tornado until a storm survey team has assessed the campgrounds, NWS meteorologist Mike Rusnak says that based on the type of thunderstorm in the area and “from the pictures we’ve seen, we do think it was a tornado.”

Jordan Bertok was on the campgrounds with her family at the time of the storm and has been tweeting pictures of the devastation. “Just lived through a tornado,” she wrote. “Children are missing. People are dead. Trees are down.” Continuing with the message: “This is hell. I’m in hell.”

Betrok’s grandparents went in their car to take cover. They were hospitalized for injuries, although Betrok said that they are “doing well.”

Local media outlet WAVY-TV reported that six ambulances and a mass casualty truck arrived on the scene to assist the injured and help transport them to the hospital. The news source also reports that some boats were flipped in Oyster Bay, although it’s unknown whether they were occupied.

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