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After the deadly tornado in Oklahoma, forecasters are warning Midwestern residents to brace for storms

After the deadly tornado in Oklahoma, forecasters are warning Midwestern residents to brace for storms

By ALEXA ST. JOHN, SEAN MURPHY and JIM SALTER – Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Several Midwestern states braced for dangerous storms Tuesday as tornadoes spun through parts of Michigan, a day after a powerful tornado tore through a small Oklahoma town, killing at least one person and leaving dozens houses were destroyed.

The National Weather Service said a few tornadoes were spotted in southwestern Michigan on Tuesday, including two that destroyed parts of Portage, a city just south of Kalamazoo. The sheriff’s office there said several trees and power lines were down in the area, while photos posted on Facebook showed serious damage to the roof of a FedEx building and debris on delivery trucks. It was not immediately known if there were any injuries.

A tornado warning was also issued Tuesday afternoon for parts of Northeast Indiana and Northwest Ohio with the possibility of tornadoes, large hail and wind gusts up to 70 mph (112.65 kph).

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Tuesday’s storms were not expected to pose as much of a threat as Monday’s, said Roger Edwards, chief forecaster at the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center.

The Storm Prediction Center cited 17 reports of tornadoes from Monday evening through early Tuesday in the central United States. Eight of the twisters were in Oklahoma, two each in Kansas, South Dakota and Iowa, and one each in Nebraska, Missouri and Tennessee. The powerful storms come amid a wild wave of severe weather around the world, including some of the worst flooding ever in Brazil and a brutal heat wave in Asia.

A deadly tornado that touched down in Oklahoma Monday evening tore through the 1,000-person town of Barnsdall, about a 40-minute drive north of Tulsa. The National Weather Service there had warned Monday evening that “a large and life-threatening tornado” was headed toward Barnsdall.

One person died in the city and one man is missing, Barnsdall Mayor Johnny Kelley said. Authorities launched a secondary search for the missing man Tuesday morning.

It was the second tornado to hit the city in five weeks: An April 1 tornado with maximum winds of 90 to 100 mph (145 to 161 km per hour) damaged homes and blew down trees and utility poles in Barnsdall.

At least 30 to 40 homes in the Barnsdall area were damaged Monday evening, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported.

Aerial photographs of Barnsdall showed several well-built houses reduced to rubble, and others with torn-off roofs and damaged walls still standing. The powerful destroyer downed vehicles, downed power lines and stripped branches and bark from trees in the city. A 160-acre laundry plant in the community also suffered heavy damage.

“The hardest thing for me as mayor is that this is a small community,” Kelley said. “I know 75% to 80% of the people in this city.”

First responders rescued about 25 people, including children, from badly damaged homes where buildings had collapsed on or around them, Kelley said. About half a dozen people were injured, he said.

The Barnsdall Nursing Home said it evacuated residents after a gas leak could not be stopped due to storm damage. It was later posted online that all residents were declared without injuries and were being taken to other facilities.

Gov. Kevin Stitt, who surveyed the tornado damage Tuesday, said it was rated by weather researchers as a violent tornado with winds up to 200 mph. Stitt said he and legislative leaders have agreed to set aside $45 million in this year’s budget to help storm-damaged communities.

“Oklahomans are resilient,” Stitt said, “and we are going to rebuild.”

Damage was also reported in Bartlesville, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) northeast.

At the Hampton Inn in Bartlesville, several splintered 2x4s were driven into the south side of the building. Chunks of insulation, twisted metal and other debris littered the hotel’s lawn, and vehicles in the parking lot were heavily damaged by smashed windows.

Matthew Macedo, 30, who was staying at the hotel, said he was taken to the hotel washroom to wait out the storm.

“When the impact happened it was incredibly sudden,” he said.

The weather was bad earlier Monday, causing gusts of wind and rain. But it was already dark when tornadoes were spotted across northern Oklahoma. At some point in the evening, a storm in the small town of Covington had “produced intermittent tornadoes for more than an hour,” according to the National Weather Service. Throughout the area, wind farm turbines were spinning rapidly in the wind and blinding rain.

The storms tore through Oklahoma as areas including Sulfur and Holdenville were still recovering from a tornado that killed four people and left thousands without power late last month. Both the Plains and the Midwest have been ravaged by tornadoes this spring.

Oklahoma and Kansas are under a high risk weather warning on Monday. The last time such a warning was issued was on March 31, 2023, when a massive storm system tore through parts of the South and Midwest, including Arkansas, Illinois and rural Indiana.

The whole week looks stormy in the US. The eastern US and the south are expected to bear the brunt of the bad weather for the rest of the week, including in Indianapolis, Memphis, Nashville, St. Louis and Cincinnati, cities with more than 21 million people. It should be clear by the weekend.

St. John reported from Detroit and Salter from O’Fallon, Missouri. Associated Press writers Rio Yamat in Las Vegas; Heather Hollingsworth in Mission, Kansas; Colleen Slevin in Denver; Kathy McCormack in Concord, New Hampshire; Sarah Brumfield in Silver Spring, Md.; and Ed White in Detroit contributed to this report.

Alexa St. John is an Associated Press climate solutions reporter. Follow her on X: @alexa_stjohn. Reach her at [email protected].

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