At least one person has been killed and 21 injured in Oklahoma as a severe storm system generated several tornadoes Sunday in Kansas, Oklahoma and Iowa, leveling neighborhoods and sending frightened residents scurrying for shelter.
The tornadoes, high winds and hail across the Midwest were part of a massive, northeastward-moving storm system that stretched from Texas to Minnesota.
Victims and emergency responders might not get much of reprieve as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Storm Prediction Center was forecasting similar weather for Monday over much of the same area.
At least four separate twisters touched down in central Oklahoma late Sunday afternoon, including one near the town of Shawnee, 35 miles southeast of Oklahoma City, that laid waste to much of a mobile home park. Oklahoma state Rep. Justin Wood confirmed to Fox News Sunday that at least one person had been killed in the town.
Authorities tell the Associated Press the 79-year-old man's body was found in an open area of the neighborhood.
A storm spotter told the National Weather Service that the tornado "scoured" the landscape in the park and an area along Interstate 40. The highway has been closed because of overturned tractor-trailers that now litter the road.
Across the state, 21 people were injured, not including those who suffered bumps and bruises and chose not to visit a hospital, said Keli Cain, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. Gov. Mary Fallin declared an emergency for 16 Oklahoma counties that suffered from severe storms and flooding during the weekend.
A tornado grazed the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond Sunday afternoon, dropping hail as large as grapefruit and damaging roofs and structures before heading east. Aerial flyovers in Wellston, northeast of Oklahoma City, showed significant property damage.
"I knew it was coming," said Edmond resident Randy Grau, who huddled with his wife and two young boys in their Edmond's home's safe room when the tornado hit. He said he peered out his window as the weather worsened and believed he saw a flock of birds heading down the street.
"Then I realized it was swirling debris," Grau said. "That's when we shut the door of the safe room.
"I probably had them in there for 10 minutes."
Dozen of counties in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Missouri were placed under tornado watches and warnings that were in effect through late Sunday.
In Kansas, an "violent and extremely dangerous tornado" was spotted in the southwest side of Wichita near the Mid-Continent Airport, according to the National Weather Service.
Carl Brewer, the mayor of Wichita, told Fox News that the city was hit harder by high winds and golf ball sized hail than anything from the tornado.
"That alone, and the rain, actually just really did a number on the city," he said. "It was so bad you think a tornado came through."
Brewer said hail ripped through the sides of houses in Wichita, in addition to breaking windows and damaging cars.
But Randy Duncan, Wichita's emergency management director, told Fox News that he has not yet heard of any local reports of injuries of deaths stemming from the storm.
In Iowa, a tornado touched down 30 miles west of Des Moines, the National Weather Service said, according to the Des Moines Register.
More severe storms are also in the forecast in Oklahoma a day after large hail fell in the state's southwest and electricity was knocked out to thousands.
“The overall environment appears quite favorable for tornadoes,” the SPC outlook stated, according to the Kansas City Star.
The center says the greatest risk for storms in Oklahoma is in the far north, around the Bartlesville area. Overall, the cities included in the area of moderate risk are Kansas City, Wichita, Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
In Enid on Saturday, a police officer was injured in high winds when his cruiser was struck by an object. Area emergency manager Mike Honigsberg told The Oklahoman that the car may have been hit by a cattle trough lifted by the wind. In Oklahoma City, an officer was trapped for a time when surrounded by fallen utility lines.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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