At least 1 dead as tornadoes tear through Oklahoma, Arkansas and northeast Texas



CNN

An early winter blast met record autumn warmth Friday, leading to a robust, severe storm system in the South and creating the biggest tornado threat the US has seen in more than five months.

At least one person died in McCurtain County, Oklahoma, where significant storm damage was reported, according to county emergency manager Cody McDaniel.

Nine twisters formed in Texas, four in Arkansas, and one in Oklahoma, a preliminary count by the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center showed.

The total number is likely to increase in the light of Saturday, and the intensity of each one will not be known until the local NWS office conducts a damage survey, which could take several days.

In Texas, damage was confirmed west of Paris and near Sulfur Springs in the northeast of the state.

As the system moves east, a tornado watch is in effect Friday night through midnight for parts of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

Tornado threat update weather card image 110422

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At least four homes were damaged in Hopkins County, Texas, by the tornado, the sheriff’s office there said. No injuries were reported.

In neighboring Lamar County, where Paris is the county seat, “there has been quite a bit of damage and some injuries,” Lamar County Constable Travis Rhodes told CNN Friday night.

In Oklahoma, a woman was injured by a falling tree while she was on her way to a storm shelter, Lewis Collins, a volunteer at the Choctaw Office of Emergency Management, told CNN. It was unclear whether the tornado passed through the area, he said.

The Hurricane Prediction Center has highlighted a ‘moderate risk’ – Level 4 out of 5 – area of ​​severe thunderstorms on Friday for east Texas, southeast Oklahoma, southwest Arkansas and northwest Louisiana.

The Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area remains at an enhanced risk – a Level 3 out of 4 – for Friday.

“Areas most likely for strong tornadoes [EF2 or higher] will be from far southeast Oklahoma south to east Texas, east of the I-35 corridor,” the prediction center said.

A watch in effect until midnight includes parts of western and central Arkansas, northwestern Louisiana, southeastern Oklahoma, and eastern and northeastern Texas, according to the Hurricane Prediction Center.

In addition to intense tornadoes, spreading large to very large hail, larger than golf ball-sized (2 inches in diameter), is also possible, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

The main threat will shift from tornadoes Friday afternoon and evening to damaging winds into the overnight hours as thunderstorms align and spread to Arkansas and Louisiana.

As the storm pushes east, widespread and damaging wind events are forecast later Friday evening in the Ark-La-Tex area. That is why the prediction center has increased the threat level for Friday.

“Storms will continue through the night, tracking much of Louisiana and Arkansas, and into western Mississippi, the forecast center added.

This storm system will move quickly from west to east, which will reduce the chance for flash flooding to occur throughout the Ark-La-Tex area. Farther north, rainfall of one to four inches is expected through Saturday over a wide area from Kansas to Wisconsin.

Rainfall is badly needed in this region as a recent drought has caused the Mississippi River to reach low levels, affecting shipping and supply chains.

In all, 42 million people from Texas to Wisconsin are at risk of severe storms Friday. Houston, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Little Rock, Kansas City and Wichita are also included in the risk areas.

The last time the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area was at an increased risk or higher is May 24.

While tornadoes in the US can occur in any month of the year, they are most common in the spring thanks to the clash of cold and hot air as the seasons change. A similar combination of temperatures also occurs in the fall, so you often see a secondary “severe winter” later in the year.

“You can see that while spring is the busiest time climatologically, there is a secondary increase in tornado activity in November,” the National Weather Service in New Orleans said.

Texas sees the most tornadoes (7) in November on average, followed by Alabama (6), Louisiana (5), and Mississippi (5).

The time of day when a tornado occurs makes a big difference in the fatality rate. Nocturnal tornadoes are more dangerous because many people are asleep and don’t realize they need to find a safe location. While the greatest tornado threat for this particular event is during the daytime hours, there is still a possibility for some storms to rotate through the afternoon hours.

Make sure you have your severe weather safety plan ready to go before bad weather hits. Know where to go if the weather turns bad, and make sure flashlights work and cell phones are fully charged in case you lose power.

“One of the most important features of your severe weather safety plan is to have a reliable way to receive severe weather warnings,” the weather service in New Orleans said.

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Also Read :  Tornado watch extended until 7 a.m.

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