NEW YORK — A tornado half a mile wide struck near Oklahoma City on Sunday, part of a massive storm front that hammered the central United States. News reports said at least one person had died.
By early Sunday evening, 19 tornados had touched down in parts of Iowa, Oklahoma and Kansas, according to the National Weather Service and local news reports.
Fox News reported that one person was killed in Shawnee, Oklahoma, east of Oklahoma City.
Police in Shawnee could not immediately be reached to confirm the report.
Officials of the National Weather Service in Oklahoma issued a series of increasingly urgent warnings in the late afternoon and evening, including an alert on Twitter about a tornado striking Pink, a town on the edge of Oklahoma City.
“Large tornado west of Pink!” the post read. “Take cover RIGHT NOW in Pink! DO NOT WAIT!”
An extreme weather system stretching from north Texas to Minnesota had been building for hours on Sunday when a “large tornado” touched down near Wichita, Kansas at 3:45 pm Central Standard time, according to a weather service alert.
Another alert warned of the likelihood of “exceptionally powerful, severe thunderstorms capable of destructive hail as large as baseballs,” especially over southeast Kansas in the evening.
Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Iowa are all in the path of the storm system capable of producing winds of up to 80 miles per hour, large hail stones and violent tornadoes.