TIME weather

At Least 19 Tornadoes Touch Down From Texas to Minnesota

Storms moved through rural Lyon County, Kan.
Matthew Fowler—AP Storms moved through rural Lyon County, Kan., on May 16, 2015.

A powerful storm system stretching from Texas to Minnesota brought flash flood warnings early Sunday after kicking up at least 19 damaging tornadoes overnight and pounding the region with baseball-sized hail.

Thousands of customers were without power but there were no immediate reports of any deaths or injuries.

Forecasters said the system was continuing its march eastward as radar showed storms across Iowa, Missouri and a large area of Texas.

Severe storms were likely Sunday for the Upper Midwest and mid-Mississippi Valley, including the possibility of isolated tornadoes. Flash flood warnings were also in effect in many areas, including north Texas, NBC DFW reported.

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Science

One Astronaut’s Stunning Vine Shows a Huge Lightning Storm From Space

"A majestic performance that inspires awe and respect"

American astronaut Terry Virts posted a breathtaking Vine recently that showed a huge lightning storm as seen from the International Space Station. It’s the latest Vine that astronauts have been posting since they started using the app. “Massive lightning storm over India,” Virts wrote on Twitter. “A majestic performance that inspires awe and respect.”

Astronauts have recorded tons of fun footage during their time in space, including this fascinating video from Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, who explained how exactly they use the bathroom in zero gravity.

Now that Virts, Cristoforetti and Anton Shkaplerov will be in a space longer than anticipated, perhaps we’ll see more of these short clips soon.

TIME weather

At Least 5 Dead After Tornados Strike Texas and Arkansas

Ronnie Hastings looks over what used to be his grandfather's home after a deadly storm south of Cisco, Texas on May 10, 2015.
Tommy Metthe—The Abilene Reporter-News/AP Ronnie Hastings looks over what used to be his grandfather's home after a deadly storm south of Cisco, Texas on May 10, 2015.

The National Weather Service believes at least one tornado hit Van on Sunday night

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) — Emergency responders searched through splintered wreckage Monday after a line of tornadoes battered several small communities in Texas and Arkansas, killing at least five people, including a young couple who died trying to shield their daughter from the storm.

Three people were still missing in a rural East Texas town. Scores of others were hurt, some critically.

The couple, both in their late 20s, died when a twister hit their mobile home late Sunday in the Arkansas town of Nashville.

Michael and Melissa Mooneyhan were trying to protect their daughter when the parents’ trailer flipped over and “exploded,” Howard County Coroner John Gray said.

“I had wondered if they were in an enclosed space like a hallway or a bathroom just sheltering the little girl when it hit,” Gray said. “It’s a miracle that little girl survived.”

The girl, who is about 18 months old, was taken to the hospital and later released to relatives.

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

The two parents met when they were teenagers attending different high schools and were married in April 2004, before they even graduated.

Polly McCammack, who also lives in Nashville, is Melissa’s third cousin. A week ago, she said, the close-knit family lost their grandmother who “practically raised” Melissa and her siblings.

“The family has been hit hard. They’re strong, but it’s almost like to the point you’re afraid to breathe,” McCammack said.

Michael Mooneyhan worked in the deli department of the local Wal-Mart. Melissa was a stay-at-home mom doting on their daughter.

“That baby was definitely their life. They considered her their greatest blessing. You couldn’t find two parents who loved a child more,” McCammack said. “She’s going to grow up knowing family and knowing love.”

Family members went to the site of the destroyed home looking for mementos, toys and other things they could salvage for the little girl, McCammack said.

National Weather Service investigators confirmed a tornado with a preliminary EF2 rating and winds estimated at 125 mph touched down in Nashville, meteorologist Travis Washington said.

The county’s tornado sirens were sounded for so long during Sunday’s first tornado warning that the battery was drained, Howard County Emergency Management Coordinator Sonny Raulerson said.

When a second warning was issued for about 16 miles south of Nashville, the sirens could not be sounded, Raulerson said.

In neighboring Texas, a tornado pummeled the small city of Van, damaging or destroying 50 to 100 homes and the local schools, according to Chuck Allen, fire marshal and emergency management coordinator for Van Zandt County.

Authorities confirmed at least two deaths.

For much of the day, eight people were still unaccounted for in Van, population 2,600, about 70 miles southeast of Dallas. Searchers eventually located five of them alive and planned to continue looking for the others into the evening.

Officials confirmed that the tornado was an EF3, with winds from 135 mph to 140 mph, Allen said.

Rescuers went door to door. Damage was widespread, with trees uprooted and numerous homes and buildings flattened or ripped apart.

At least 42 people were injured, according to two East Texas hospitals. Four patients were in critical condition.

James Crawford and his wife, Thelma, rode out the storm in their mobile home in the area with some of Van’s worst damage.

They were in bed and did not have time to run, she said. All she could do was roll over and give her husband a bear hug while they held on.

Thelma Crawford said she believes their home lifted off the ground a bit, then came back down.

“We’re like family in that neighborhood,” she said. “When one of them gets hurt, I hurt.”

In some cases, the fronts of homes were sheared off, revealing living room furniture tossed in a jumble. Houses were spray painted with an X to indicate they had been searched by emergency workers.

Kimberli Shane held a muddy hand to her forehead as she watched friends and neighbors salvage furniture from the home she rented.

“All I could really hear was the house pulling apart,” she said. “And my son saying, ‘Oh no, it’s right over us.'”

Preliminary reports indicate 20 to 25 tornadoes formed Sunday in South Dakota, Iowa, Oklahoma and Texas, according to meteorologist Greg Carbin of the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

The storm system was expected to slowly move east. Thunderstorms were forecast from Texas to the Great Lakes region.

“This is certainly not an atypical system for spring where you’ve got the remnants of winter but the onset of summer,” Carbin said.

The same storm system dumped 11 inches of rain in some places and caused widespread flooding. Firefighters in Corsicana, 60 miles southwest of Van, recovered the body of a driver who had ventured into the floodwaters after his vehicle stalled in a swollen creek.

The heavy rain caused a huge sinkhole to open up in Granbury, some 40 miles southwest of Fort Worth. The 40-foot-wide sinkhole swallowed the parking lot of a supermarket and damaged water and sewer lines beneath, WFAA-TV reported.

Farther north, in Lake City, Iowa, a suspected tornado tore the roof from a high school as about 150 students, family and faculty attended an awards ceremony inside Sunday night.

Dave Birks, girls’ basketball coach at South Central Calhoun High School, said people were able to flee to the basement and locker room area about two minutes before the twister arrived.

“The lights went off, and everyone’s ears kind of popped,” Birks said, adding that school windows were blown out and insulation was scattered nearby. He also said the high-jump pit from the school’s outdoor athletic complex was missing, and hurdles were scattered everywhere.

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Warren reported from Van, Texas.

___

Associated Press writers Kelly P. Kissel and Allen Reed in Little Rock contributed to this report.

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

Severe Weather Casts a Wide Net Across U.S.

South Dakota was the center of weather extremes Sunday, with a tornado hitting a small town on the eastern side of the state and more than a foot of snow blanketing the Black Hills to the west.

It was among several Great Plains and Midwest states in the path of expected severe weather. At the same time, a tropical storm came ashore in the Carolinas and wintry weather also affected parts of Colorado.

Tropical Storm Ana made landfall near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on Sunday morning and was downgraded to a tropical depression by Sunday afternoon. The storm’s maximum sustained winds were at 35 mph, and it was expected to move over eastern North Carolina on Sunday night.

In South Dakota, National Weather Service meteorologist Philip Schumacher said law enforcement reported a tornado about 10:45 a.m. Sunday in Delmont — about 90 miles from Sioux Falls. Delmont Fire Chief Elmer Goehring told The Associated Press that there “have been some injuries,” and Avera Health spokeswoman Lindsey Meyers said three people were in good condition at a local hospital. No deaths were reported.

South Dakota Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Kristi Turman said about 20 buildings were damaged and the town has no water, power or phones.

“One side of town was taken away,” Delmont resident Anita Mathews told the AP. She said a large Lutheran church had been heavily damaged as well as a new fire hall.

In North Texas, sparsely populated ranching and farming communities were left to clean up from Saturday’s tornadoes that left one person dead and another in critical condition, authorities said. Cisco Fire Department spokesman Phillip Truitt said the two people were near each other.

The National Weather Service said Sunday that the Cisco tornado was rated an EF-3, with winds ranging from 136 to 165 mph. At least six buildings were damaged south of Cisco, which is about 100 miles west of Fort Worth, as well as six others near Lake Leon, Truitt said.

A strong line of storms moved through the Dallas-Fort Worth area Sunday morning, forcing significant delays and a total of 100 flight cancellations at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Dallas Love Field Airport.

Forecasters issued tornado watches through Sunday evening for parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska and Minnesota.

Farther north, a late-season snow fell in parts of the Rockies, western Nebraska and western South Dakota.

National Weather Service meteorologist Kyle Carstens said between 10 to 18 inches of snow was on the ground Sunday morning in the Black Hills, and totals could reach 20-24 inches by the time the system moves out. Rapid City, South Dakota, had 8-11 inches, accompanied by 20-30 mph winds.

Nearly 18 inches of snow fell in southern Colorado, a state that also saw hail, flooding and tornado warnings over the weekend.

___

Associated Press writers Jeff Baenen in Minneapolis and Nomaan Merchant in Dallas contributed to this report.

TIME weather

Great Plains Brace for More Severe Weather

In this May 7, 2015 photo, Dillan Taylor salvages items from her destroyed recreational vehicle in Oklahoma City.
Sue Ogrocki—AP In this May 7, 2015 photo, Dillan Taylor salvages items from her destroyed recreational vehicle in Oklahoma City.

Forecasters warned of possible tornadoes

(OKLAHOMA CITY)—Storms brought heavy rain and quarter-sized hail to parts of southwest Oklahoma on Saturday afternoon, but the greatest chance of potentially dangerous weather in the Great Plains loomed later in the day.

The National Weather Service says there’s a risk of severe thunderstorms Saturday — including possible tornadoes and large hail — in parts of western Kansas, western Colorado, and a large part of Oklahoma and parts of North Texas.

“After 9, 10, the tornado threat will diminish,” National Weather Service forecaster Daryl Williams said of Oklahoma’s threat, “but that doesn’t necessarily mean the severe weather or rain will diminish.”

But the threatening skies stretched beyond the Plains states, as twin weather systems stretching from the Carolinas to California produced an unseasonably early tropical storm in the Atlantic and a late-season snowstorm in the Rocky Mountains. Tropical Storm Ana’s forecast track is expected to go near the coasts of North and South Carolina on Sunday.

Meanwhile, up to 5 inches of snow was possible in the Nebraska Panhandle this weekend, and parts of South Dakota could receive between 12 to 24 inches of snow, according to the weather service.

Heavy rains on Friday night caused some flooding in Oklahoma. Officials in Shawnee, about 40 miles east of Oklahoma City, were monitoring the levels of Granada Lake, which was at risk of breaching a dam and flooding about 25 homes. Shawnee received 2.95 inches of rain since Friday morning, according to the Oklahoma Climatological Survey.

Earlier this week, powerful storms rumbled through the southern Plains, producing more than 50 tornadoes and dropping 7.1 inches in Oklahoma City on Wednesday — the third-heaviest rainfall for any day on record dating back to 1890, state climatologist Gary McManus said.

David Wheeler and his family retreated underground to a small shelter several times this week. Two years ago, a top-of-the-scale twister tore a miles-long path through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore and turned Wheeler’s son’s school to rubble. The family now regularly drills on what to do if the skies turn ominous.

“We’ve done some dry runs before the spring. I made the kids go down there by themselves, and we’ve done the same thing with me, the wife and the kids, all together,” Wheeler, a fifth-grade teacher whose family has survived two deadly tornadoes, said Friday.

Wheeler and his family are not the only ones who sought extra protection after the 2013 tornado that killed 24 people, including seven children who died in an elementary school. In the two years since, the city has issued more than 3,000 storm shelter permits. City officials estimate that about 40 percent of homes in Moore now have shelters, spokeswoman Deidre Ebrey said.

TIME weather

Surprise Tropical Storm Ana Nears Carolinas

Sub-tropical storm Ana, located about 170 miles south-southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is seen in a NOAA GOES satellite image
NOAA/Reuters Sub-tropical storm Ana, located about 170 miles south-southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is seen in a NOAA GOES satellite image taken on May 8, 2015.

It's bringing wind and rain to the Southeast coast

(MIAMI) — Beachgoers were warned away, emergency officials kept a watchful eye and at least one graduation ceremony was forced indoors as Tropical Storm Ana plodded toward the Carolinas on Saturday in an early heaping of rough weather weeks ahead of the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Ana was centered about 85 miles (135 kilometers) southeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina as of 2 p.m. EDT, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. The storm had top sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph) but had slowed from its earlier speed, moving northwest at 3 mph (6 kph), and was forecast to be “very near” the coasts of South and North Carolina sometime Sunday morning.

Universities along the Carolina coastline were monitoring the storm as a possible disruption to weekend commencements. Ceremonies scheduled for Brooks Stadium Saturday at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, were moved indoors out of caution.

In Wilmington, North Carolina, UNC Wilmington held graduation indoors, as planned, but urged students and family to watch weather conditions and make their own determination whether it’s safe to travel.

The North Myrtle Beach Department of Public Safety announced Saturday that no swimming in the ocean was allowed because of the weather. In New Hanover County, North Carolina, officials cautioned people who were thinking about coming to the beach over the weekend.

“Beachgoers are encouraged to use extreme caution this weekend,” said Warren Lee, Director of New Hanover County Emergency Management. “With the elevated risk of rip currents, the best advice is to stay out of the water when the risk for rip currents is the highest and comply with any advisories given by lifeguards.”

Stacy Stewart, a hurricane specialist at the hurricane center, said dangerous surf and rip tides appear to be the biggest threat posed by the Atlantic season’s first tropical storm though isolated flooding in some coastal areas is also a concern. Although the season doesn’t formally start until June 1, he told The Associated Press such early surprise storms are not all that unusual every few years or so.

“We had a similar situation occur twice back in 2012 when we had two early season tropical storms, Alberto and Beryl,” Stewart noted of two storms that also emerged in the month of May. “That was very unusual to get two storms before the normal start of the hurricane season; one is not that unusual.”

But Ana marked the earliest subtropical or tropical storm to form in the Atlantic since another storm named Ana emerged in 2003, the hurricane center said in an earlier tweet. The Atlantic season officially runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, a period experts consider the most likely for tropical activity in the ocean basin.

Stewart said Ana emerged from a subtropical system, meaning it initially had characteristics of both a tropical storm — which draws energy from warm ocean waters — and a traditional storm system driven by temperature changes typical of cooler weather before the season start.

Despite Ana’s early appearance, he cautioned, swimmers and surfers should stay out of the water because of rough surf and dangerous rip tides. He added people watching the surf from jetties and piers should be cautious due to waves the storm can kick up.

“The biggest danger is rough surf and rip currents. We just don’t want people out there swimming in the waters. We especially don’t want surfers in the rough surf. If they go under they could get dragged out to sea,” Stewart added.

The center said a tropical storm warning extends from the southern part of the Santee River in South Carolina to Cape Lookout, North Carolina, with 1 to 3 inches of rain expected over a wide area and up to 5 inches in some isolated spots. The hurricane center also said the storm could push water 1 to 2 feet above normal height levels, causing some localized flooding.

A tropical storm watch also was in effect for Edisto Beach, South Carolina, up through the southern tip of the Santee River.

A tropical storm warning means tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere within the warning area, in Ana’s case within 12 to 24 hours, according to the center. A tropical storm watch means tropical storm conditions are possible in the watch area within 24 hours.

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

Tornadoes in Southern Plains Destroy Homes, Flip Cars

The driver of a truck which crashed during severe weather on Interstate 35 gestures to his rescuers after being cut from the truck in Moore, Okla., May 6, 2015
Sue Ogrocki—AP The driver of a truck which crashed during severe weather on Interstate 35 gestures to his rescuers after being cut from the truck in Moore, Okla., on May 6, 2015

At least 12 people were injured, but no deaths were immediately reported

(OKLAHOMA CITY) — Authorities are set to survey the damage left behind after tornadoes swept across the southern Plains, overturning cars and destroying dozens of homes near Oklahoma City.

At least 12 people were injured, but no deaths were immediately reported from the twisters that also hit rural parts of Texas, Kansas and Nebraska on Wednesday night.

“We’ll have much better picture of how widespread the damage is when the sun comes up tomorrow,” meteorologist Forrest Mitchell with the National Weather Service in Norman said.

The Oklahoma City area seemed to be the hardest hit. A twister destroyed homes in Grady County, southwest of the city, and it appeared another tornado touched down in the area later Wednesday evening when a second storm came through.

“We do strongly think there was a tornado on the south side of Oklahoma City,” meteorologist Michael Scotten said after the second storm that hit around 8:40 p.m.

That storm flipped vehicles on Interstate 35 and left power lines strewn across the roadway, Scotten said.

Lara O’Leary, a spokeswoman for Emergency Medical Services Authority, said late Wednesday that the company transported 12 patients from a trailer park in south Oklahoma City to local hospitals. She did not have further details about the extent of the patients’ injuries.

Grady County Emergency Management Director Dale Thompson said about 10 homes were destroyed in Amber and 25 were destroyed in Bridge Creek. As the storm moved to the east, forecasters declared a tornado emergency for Moore, where seven schoolchildren were among 24 people killed in a storm two years ago. When the first of the storms moved through Wednesday, school districts held their pupils in safe places.

Also in Grady County, all animals were accounted for after a zoo in Tuttle was hit by a tornado, Alisa Voegeli, a dispatcher at the sheriff’s office, said. The damage had initially prompted fears that wild animals had escaped.

At Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, people were twice evacuated into a tunnel outside the security zone.

After the tornadoes passed through, flash flooding remained a concern.

The National Weather Service received widespread reports of 5 to 8 inches of rain in the area, Mitchell said. A measurement of 7.1 inches at the Oklahoma City airport set a new daily rainfall record, he said, topping the previous record of 2.61 inches.

Oklahoma City spokeswoman Kristy Yager said the rainfall prompted the city to issue a flash flood emergency for the first time in its history. Emergency crews were canvassing the city Wednesday night, she said.

O’Leary said the ambulance service responded to water rescues “all over” the Oklahoma City metro area. Two ambulance crews required also assistance after getting stuck in high water, she said.

A flash flood warning was in effect for parts of six counties in central Oklahoma until 9 a.m. The same warning was also in effect for two counties in north-central Texas. That area also saw reports of tornadoes late Wednesday, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries, according to Mitchell.

In Nebraska, 10 to 15 homes were damaged near Grand Island, and between Hardy and Ruskin, near the Kansas line.

At least nine tornadoes were reported in Kansas, the strongest of them in the sparsely populated north-central part of the state. That included a large tornado near the tiny town of Republic just south of the Nebraska state line, where some homes were damaged. In Harvey County, a tornado destroyed a hog barn and damaged trees, according to the National Weather Service.

The Storm Prediction Center had warned that bad weather would come to Tornado Alley and said more storms were possible later in the week.

“People just really need to stay weather aware, have a plan and understand that severe storms are possible across portions of the southern Plains almost daily through Saturday,” meteorologist Jonathan Kurtz said.

TIME weather

Tornadoes Touch Down in Oklahoma and Nebraska

A tornado seen from Norman, Okla. on May, 6 2015.
Clint Goldschmidt (@jaruseleh) via Instagram A tornado seen from Norman, Okla. on May, 6 2015.

Wednesday's storm was not as strong as the storm two years ago

(OKLAHOMA CITY) — A storm that produced tornadoes across parts of southwestern Oklahoma bore down on suburban Oklahoma City during the evening rush hour Wednesday, and forecasters declared a tornado emergency for Moore, which was hit hard two years ago.

Forecasters had warned that severe storms could strike through much of Tornado Alley. Twisters were also reported in Kansas and Nebraska.

No injuries were reported in Wednesday’s weather. Local television stations reported that some storm spotters had seen signs of damage southwest of the Oklahoma capital.

National Weather Service meteorologist Angela Pfannkuch said the rural town of Roseland, Nebraska, near Grand Island, was hit at 4:22 p.m. Wednesday. No injuries were immediately reported to emergency management personnel and it wasn’t yet known whether homes and buildings were damaged.

A weak storm formed in southeastern Oklahoma shortly after 3 p.m., according to weather service meteorologist Michael Scotten, and the supercell thunderstorm that created it held together until it reached Oklahoma City.

School districts in the path of the storm held their pupils in safe places. Among the communities in the path of the storm was Moore, where 24 died in an EF-5 twister May 20, 2013. Seven schoolchildren were among the dead.

Wednesday’s storm was not as strong as the storm two years ago, though appeared ominous nonetheless. Live television and accompanying commentary raised the alarm, along with tornado sirens in dozens of towns.

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management opened its operations center but at early evening no county had requested aid.

“We haven’t gotten any reports of damage from any of our local emergency managers yet,” spokeswoman Keli Cain said. Highway officials closed Interstate 44; radar images showed the storm hugging the highway as it approached central Oklahoma.

Patrons at the Newcastle Casino were directed to a safe room at the facility, said Kym Koch, a spokeswoman for the casino. “They’re sheltering in place,” Koch said.

Richard Thompson of the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma — which was also in the path of the Oklahoma City storm — said bad weather was possible anywhere from Nebraska to west Texas.

“This is the first of potentially several days of a severe weather risk,” Thompson said. “There could be some pretty heavy rain overnight and eventually flooding could be a concern.”

Areas of central Oklahoma saw heavy rainfall and some flooding overnight and early Wednesday, National Weather Service meteorologist Jonathan Kurtz said. Nearly 4 inches of rain fell in Norman, where the Oklahoma Department of Transportation shut down several on-ramps to Interstate 35. The ramps re-opened early Wednesday afternoon.

“People just really need to stay weather aware, have a plan and understand that severe storms are possible across portions of the southern plains almost daily through Saturday,” Kurtz said.

In south-central Nebraska, about 110 miles southwest of Omaha, the Nuckolls County Sheriff’s Office said a tornado hit near the Kansas border, between Hardy and Ruskin. Deputies were checking houses to ensure everyone was safe.

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