Multi-state tornado outbreak leaves over 2 dozen dead, trails of catastrophic destruction

The FOX Forecast confirmed 76 tornadoes across 12 states from Friday and Saturday.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Friday night was a terrifying night for families up and down America’s heartland when the most active severe weather outbreak so far this year left at least 31 people dead across six states and injured dozens more.

Residents across the region are now combing through the debris and trying to salvage what they can as they slowly begin to try and piece their lives back together after the storms, including powerful tornadoes, ripped through.

The ferocious storms left widespread damage, triggering more than 850 storm reports across at least seven states. At one point in the evening, the FOX Forecast Center said more than 20 Tornado Warnings were active at once as rare "Particularly Dangerous Situation" Tornado Watches stretched 900 miles from Wisconsin to Texas.

Hundreds of thousands of power outages remain across several states thanks to the severe storms and a snowstorm in the northern Plains. The power outage reports grew as damaging storms tore across the Northeast on Saturday.


Homes, businesses ripped apart by tornado in Little Rock, Arkansas

Scenes of destruction could be seen in Little Rock, Arkansas, on Friday, where a tornado left at least one person dead and injured at least 30 others.


Shortly before 2:30 p.m. CDT, a Tornado Emergency was issued for communities around Little Rock. As the twister tore through the city, the National Weather Service office in Little Rock had to transfer duties to the Memphis office while the meteorologists took shelter. 

"There's well-built homes that are damaged," storm chaser Brian Emfinger told FOX Weather. "There's also numerous shopping centers that have been damaged and have roof damage."

In the wake of the destruction, emergency crews went into search and rescue mode and residents were told to stay away from the area damaged by the tornado.


Officials at the NWS office in Little Rock gave the tornado a preliminary rating of EF-3 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, noting maximum winds of at least 165 mph. That places it on the high end of the rating.

‘I thought I was a goner for sure’

Storm chasers told FOX Weather they were helping pull people from debris in Wynne, Arkansas, following a deadly tornado there. Survivors told stories of fearing for their lives.

"As I got in, huddled up against the cement barrier, every single glass window blew out, and people were blown back," said Kenneth Bruton, who was out shopping in Little Rock when he had to run for shelter in a store. "And I held on. It must’ve been a minute, just huddled. I thought I was a goner for sure."

Officials have now confirmed at least four deaths in the town.

The National Weather Service in Memphis, Tennessee, said the Wynne tornado has been given a preliminary rating of EF-3, but said damage surveys are continuing and more details would be released as soon as they're completed.

Photos from the community with a population of more than 8,000 showed trees down on top of homes and damage to the community's high school.

"I’m in shock right now, but I'm praying everybody's okay," one resident told FOX Weather multimedia journalist Will Nunley after she came home to find her home destroyed by the twister.

Storm victims described the sound of the tornado as similar to a washing machine, and it was only around for a brief time. Residents told Nunley they had plenty of advance warning, with sirens sounding more than a half-hour before the tornado arrived.

Gov. Sanders signed a state of emergency for the state for the storms and has deployed around 100 Arkansas National Guard members to assist with recovery efforts in some of the hardest-hit areas. There’s also a shelter set up at a local school for victims who’ve lost their homes. 

1 dead, multiple injured in theater roof collapse near Chicago

One person is dead, and 48 people were injured after an EF-1 tornado caused a roof collapse during a concert near Chicago.

It was a chaotic scene inside The Apollo Theatre AC in Belvidere, Illinois, as a powerful storm ripped through the area. The bands Revocation, Skeletal Remains and Morbid Angel were set to perform at the venue. The roof reportedly collapsed during the middle of the concert, trapping people under the rubble.


The NWS said Saturday that the EF-1 tornado was on the ground for nearly 28 miles and had wind speeds of 100 mph. 

"Peak winds occurred in Belvidere, which caused the roof of the Apollo Theater to collapse," NWS Chicago said

The coroner in Crawford County, Illinois, confirmed three deaths there, and those occurred in rural areas of the county.

3 dead in Indiana tornado

An Indiana sheriff said it is abundantly clear that a destructive tornado hit a community leaving three people dead.

"It is far too early to know the extent of the devastation, however we can tell you that there is a line of damage covering several miles, starting west of Sullivan in the rural New Lebanon area, extending eastward through Sullivan," Sullivan County Sheriff Jason Bobbitt said.

In the city of Sullivan, Bobbitt said homes in both the city and county were severely damaged and some were completely leveled.

"Our worst fears became a reality earlier when we learned that members of our community have lost their lives. No further information is being released on victims at this time," he said.

Bobbitt said emergency responders and utility workers continued to search for residents and ensure the scene was safe on Saturday.

A state of emergency has been declared for the affected areas. Sullivan City Hall and area churches have been opened up as safe shelters.

The National Weather Service confirmed a total of nine tornadoes touched down Friday across Indiana.

Tornado strikes just 100 miles from last week’s deadly Mississippi tornado

Tornadoes also swept through Iowa, Tennessee and Mississippi.

NWS meteorologists believe a tornado that impacted communities around Ottumwa, Iowa, was an EF-2 or EF-3 based on radar signatures.

The same storm likely produced a large tornado in Martinsburg, Iowa, where a storm chaser captured a photo of a twister moving through the rural community. 

Several barns were damaged in the eastern part of the state, but there were no reports of injuries associated with the severe weather in the Hawkeye State.

Photos from Tunica County, Mississippi, showed extensive damage to mobile homes from a likely tornado, but a storm chaser was not aware of any injuries.

According to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, one person was killed and four others were injured in Pontotoc County, Mississippi, during the severe weather outbreak.

The impacted region was more than 100 miles to the north and west from where storms left a trail of devastation one week earlier.

Several people were killed in Tennessee when the NWS said a long-track, EF-2 tornado tore through McNairy and Hardin counties.

According to the preliminary report released by the NWS office in Nashville, the half-mile-wide tornado was rated EF-2 with winds of about 130 mph and was on the ground for about 38 miles.

It touched down around 11:56 p.m. CDT on Friday and dissipated by 12:37 a.m. CDT Saturday morning.

The McNairy County Emergency Management Agency said eight storm-related deaths were reported there, and one death was reported in Tipton County.

Two other EF-3 tornadoes also touched down in Tennessee on Friday night. The NWS said one touched down in Covington, Tennessee and the other was reported in Adamsville, Tennessee.

Storms cause damage in Northeast on Saturday

The potent storm system that caused Friday's tornado outbreak renewed the threat of severe weather on Saturday. This time, the Northeast was the target.

A powerful line of storms raced across the region, prompting Tornado and Severe Thunderstorm Watches and Warnings in many areas. There were several reports of damaging winds, and a few tornadoes were also reported.

A twister appears to be the cause of damage in southwestern Delaware. Images of downed trees, mangled cars and at least one crushed home circulated on social media after a storm tore through the small town of Bridgeville in Sussex County, Delaware.

One death was reported in Sussex County after a home collapsed, according to a Facebook post from the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center.

The National Weather Service also confirmed that at least four tornadoes touched down in New Jersey Saturday evening.