At least two EF-3 tornadoes confirmed during deadly tornado outbreak in central US

Powerful thunderstorms moved through the Southern Plains producing damaging wind, large hail and tornadoes. Fatalities were reported in the rubble.

Cleanup efforts and storm surveys will continue after severe thunderstorms spawned several powerful tornadoes in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas on Friday.

The FOX Forecast Center had been expecting a tornado outbreak, and among the at least eight tornadoes that have been confirmed, the National Weather Service says two EF-3 tornadoes with winds stronger than 160 mph touched down in northeast Texas.

Tornadoes are ranked on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, and a tornado with winds stronger than 136 mph can produce severe damage.

In addition, two people are now confirmed dead due to the tornado outbreak. One person was killed in Morris County, Texas, and the other was killed in McCurtain County, Oklahoma.


The first tornadic storms of the outbreak appeared to pop in northeast Texas and southern Oklahoma.

Several mobile homes were reported to be damaged near Bryan County, Oklahoma, along the Texas-Oklahoma state line, as strong thunderstorms pushed through on Friday afternoon.

A tractor-trailer in nearby Durant, Oklahoma, was also flipped during the initial wave of severe storms.

Authorities in the Sooner State reported at least one person was injured after a home was destroyed in McCurtain County.


The storms also produced a 63 mph wind gust at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, where hundreds of flights were either delayed or canceled.

The atmosphere did not become prime for rotating supercells until they reached east of the metroplex.

Significant damage to homes was reported in Powderly, Chicota and other small communities in the northeast part of Texas. Witnesses near the Texas-Oklahoma border reported trees snapped and significant damage to structures.

One of the hardest hit areas in Texas was Lamar County. Damage was reported in the towns of both Paris and Powderly. The tornado that impacted these communities was given an initial rating of an EF-3 by NWS meteorologists.

Videos showed homes without roofs and damage to trees and power lines. Despite the destruction, officials said they had not received reports of fatalities but were working on several injuries.

The tornado outbreak produced similar scenes in Cason, Texas, and Idabel, Oklahoma. Witnesses in both towns reported the combination of nightfall and the amount of destruction made venturing out unsafe.

Cody McDaniel, Idabel's emergency management director, said he was hoping for the best after his town took a direct hit from a tornado. "Just stay away from Idabel," McDaniel pleaded.

Local authorities said that the first death was reported in McCurtain County, Oklahoma, where nearly 200 homes were either damaged or destroyed.

"We have had reports of fatalities as a result of these storms. We've saw injuries as a result. We've saw partial and total destruction, but God was with us," the local hospital CEO said.

First responders were still combing through debris through the overnight hours looking for storm victims in Cason, Texas.

Morris County Judge Doug Reeder confirmed at least one death in that county, bringing the death toll in the Lone Star State to one. 

"Rescues started immediately," emergency management coordinator Quincy Blount said. "The tornado was still on the ground, and we were still tracking it. We had officers, we had first responders, volunteer firemen actually doing the extrication and working on victims while the storm was still moving across the county."


Days ahead of assessments and clean-up

National Weather Service offices in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas have been busy surveying at least half a dozen reports of tornadoes.

The damaging storms caused power outages in the Lone Star State to impact more than 55,000 customers. reported outages in Oklahoma and Arkansas topped nearly 7,000 during the heart of the storms.

"There were people were in their truck fixing to leave and actually ended up being trapped in their truck," said Rodney Caudle, a deputy fire marshal in Hopkins County. "It's very, very amazing just to see the amount of damage, you know, and no injuries. It's just very awesome. It's a good thing."

The American Red Cross opened at least one shelter in northeast Texas for storm victims.


Although most people think spring is the time for severe weather, fall is the country's second severe weather season. It can also be more dangerous because shorter days make tornadoes in the dark more likely.

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