A deadly spring storm unleashed drenching rain, flash flooding and hail in the central United States — along with more than 130 reports of tornadoes in five days.
At least one person drowned in Oklahoma after driving around a barricade on a road in Perkins, the city’s Emergency Management office announced. And in Iowa, a tornado apparently destroyed a home early Wednesday near the city of Adair, killing a woman and seriously injuring a man, officials said.
A majority of the tornadoes were in Kansas and Missouri, CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward said. Of the total number, Friday had the most tornadoes reported at 39 and Tuesday was a close second, at 32.
About 28 million people are under the threat of severe weather Wednesday, mostly in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois and Ohio, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said.
Tornadoes and rain
The extreme weather is not just limited to tornadoes.
Parts of Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri had more than three inches of rain in the past 24 hours, and are still under flood warnings, the National Weather Service said Tuesday night.
And severe thunderstorms, large hail and some tornadoes are expected from Missouri and western Illinois, to parts of Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. In some parts of Illinois, the main threats will be heavy downpours, lightning and wind gusts of up to 35 mph, the National Weather Service said.
But not in Chicago, where forecasters had more upbeat news.
“Enjoy the sunshine and warm temperatures on Wednesday,” the National Weather Service’s Chicago office tweeted. “Through the holiday weekend, the warmer weather will stick around, but there will also be periodic chances of showers and thunderstorms.”
In Oklahoma, the extreme weather was still a concern Wednesday, with the National Weather Service saying it’ll continue to monitor the area due to a risk of severe thunderstorms across the central part of the state and into western north Texas.
After the drenching rain, rescuers such as the Broken Arrow Fire Department posted harrowing videos of people being pulled out of gushing flood waters and warned people to avoid flooded roads.
Firefighters responded to a car swept off the roadway Tuesday and found a man clinging to a fence post, unable to get out of the water, CNN affiliate KOKI reported.
The rescue team deployed a life safety rope and got in the water to climb to the victim. They gave him a flotation device and pulled him to safety.
Officials suspect a tornado killed a woman and injured a man in Iowa
In west-central Iowa, a home was destroyed by what is believed to have been a tornado early Wednesday, killing a woman and injuring a man inside, the Adair County sheriff’s office said.
Linda Lee Brownlee, 74, was found dead in her destroyed home near the city of Adair after someone called 911 just before 2 a.m., CT the sheriff’s office said.
Harold Brownlee, 78, was taken to a hospital, where he was in critical condition late Wednesday morning, according to the sheriff’s office.
The National Weather Service said a tornado — up to 150 yards wide — struck the area with peak wind speeds of up to 130 mph. Many trees were down, and a couple of other homes in the area sustained minor damage, authorities said.
The tornado touched down at 1:29 a.m. CT and appeared to dissipate eight minutes later, having traveled nearly 5 miles on the ground in the rural area, the weather service said.
Storms have repeatedly hit the same areas recently, making the Plains and the Midwest more vulnerable to flooding.
Serious river flooding — including along the already swollen Mississippi River — is expected in the central US as more rain falls over the region in the next few days.