Powerful tornadoes hit the Midwest


JOPLA storm cloud passes over a communications tower following a thunderstorm five days after a massive tornado passed through the town, killing at least 132 people on May 27, 2011 in Joplin, Missouri. The town is still recovering from the storm, which damaged or destroyed an estimated 8,000 structures.


Mario Tama

A powerful weather system has hit the Midwestern US, causing severe storms, property damage, and an outbreak of tornadoes in both Oklahoma and Kansas — as well as seventy-mile-per-hour winds and hail. 

The twisters caused damage in Oklahoma City and in Wichita, according to Fox News, while over a dozen communities in Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma are currently under tornado watch.

Health officials in Oklahoma said at least two people have been killed by the storm, according to the Associated Press, with a spokesperson saying the two elderly people died on Sunday after a tornado struck the town of Shawnee. 

Fox News also warned that a dangerous-looking twister had been sighted near Wichita, Kansas, although no damage reports have come in yet. 

Kansas news website KFOR.com reported "Major damage from tornado north of I-40 in Shawnee and a second one forming behind it...storm with debris flying through air. Hit houses in area. Cars flipped."

The live-updated news feed will continue into the evening, and Oklahoma City news channel KOCO 5 is maintaining a live video feed of coverage. 

One particularly dire National Weather Service warning published by Reuters, in advance of the storms, read: "You could be killed if not underground or in a tornado shelter... Complete destruction of neighborhoods, businesses and vehicles will occur. Flying debris will be deadly to people and animals."

A funnel cloud made contact with the earth in Emond, an Oklahoma City suburb, but moved off before much damage could occur, reported USA Today, leaving the area "relatively unscathed."

Another tornado touched down near Des Moines, added USA Today, which noted that the state of Iowa has around a 70% chance of severe thunderstorms from this evening until midnight, with more storms possibly on Monday and Tuesday.