At least two people have been killed in the central United States as storms and tornadoes sweep through the region, damaging infrastructure and tearing homes apart.
The National Weather Services (NWS) began issuing severe storm and tornado warnings on Wednesday. More storms are possible throughout Thursday, and the death toll is expected to rise as search and rescue efforts commence.
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“It is reasonable to expect possibly more based on the damage that we’ve seen,” Scott Gibbons, deputy sheriff for Oklahoma’s McClain County, said on the NBC TV network’s Today Show of the possibility of more deaths.
The storms have left a path of destruction in central states such as Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa with both deaths occurring in McClain County.
— NWS Storm Prediction Center (@NWSSPC) April 20, 2023
The county’s emergency services said they are responding to people trapped in their homes and some people had been hospitalised for injuries suffered during the storm. The number of those injured is not yet clear.
More than 16,000 people were without power in Oklahoma as of Thursday morning, according to the website PowerOutage.us. That figure is down from 23,000 at the peak of the severe weather.
Storms have created tornadoes across the US South, Midwest and Southeast this spring, killing dozens of people, knocking out power, and destroying buildings and power lines.
Other regions of the country have also experienced fierce weather over the past several months with large hurricanes slamming into states such as Florida, western states dealing with widespread flooding and extreme rainfall, and northern states hit with fierce winter storms.
In late March, 26 people were killed by tornadoes in Mississippi and Alabama. In early April, a series of tornadoes killed 32 people across states such as Indiana, Illinois and Arkansas. A tornado in Missouri killed five several days later.
Storms capable of producing more tornadoes are expected from Texas to Wisconsin on Thursday night, according to the NWS Storm Prediction Center.
“A mix of supercells and storm clusters is expected,” the centre said.