April 27, 2014

Update 10:55 PM: NBC has updated the death toll to 12, with 11 of those in Arkansas.

Update 10:35 PM PDT: An extended tornado watch is now in effect for Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma until 5 AM Central Daylight Time. According to the Weather Channel, tornado danger will continue through Wednesday.

Tornado season has swept in with a vengeance.

LA Times:

Tornadoes dashed buildings and homes in several states as one of the first serious tornado outbreaks of the season scoured the lower Midwest on Sunday.

Significant damage has been reported in the towns of Mayflower, Ark.; Baxter Springs, Kan.; and Quapaw, Okla., with Arkansas expected to face tornado danger into Sunday evening. Small tornadoes also have been reported in rural areas in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and northern Mississippi.

[Updated, 7:48 p.m. PDT, April 27: One person was killed after a tornado struck Quapaw, Okla., Ottawa County emergency dispatcher Kelli Flechs told the Los Angeles Times, adding that a previous report from the Associated Press that two people had been killed was incorrect.

“I know everybody’s been saying two, but it’s actually one,” Flechs said.

Flechs did not have information on the number of buildings damaged or destroyed.
Officials in Arkansas confirmed one death in that state as well.]

The twister that struck the area around Mayflower, near Little Rock, on Sunday evening may have been up to half a mile wide, according to the National Weather Service.

"It’s very, very, very bad," one official radioed over emergency dispatch traffic, saying that as he drove on Interstate 40 he saw a trailer park that had been "trashed." "There are semis [trucks] flattened, cars upside down ... [paramedics are on scene and] people are in stretchers."

Another official radioed that he could hear people yelling for help.

"State police have multiple houses damaged on Highway 10 west of Little Rock - checking for injuries," the National Weather Service's Twitter account said.

The weather service also tweeted that homes had been destroyed in Saltillo and that it had received a report that the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission headquarters east of Mayflower had been destroyed.

Here's video one pair of amateur stormchasers took of the Arkansas tornado just before it passed them:

It looks like there's some unstable air southeast of Dallas, TX, too:

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