At least four dead from tornadoes and storms in eastern Texas
At least three dead in eastern Arkansas from storm damage and flooding
Woman dead after flash flood in southwestern Missouri
Man and child dead after separate incidents in southern Mississippi
Search and rescue efforts are underway after weekend tornadoes, flooding and severe storms left multiple people dead and dozens more injured across the southern and midwestern U.S.
At least four people in Texas were confirmed dead following tornadoes Saturday that struck across Van Zandt County, roughly 65 miles east of Dallas. Information on the victims was not immediately available.
Three more people died across Arkansas after floods and storms. A 10-year-old girl in northwest Springdale was found dead late Saturday after she was swept away in floodwaters. A 65-year-old woman in De Witt, about 80 miles east of Little Rock, died when winds felled a tree that crushed her mobile home. A 24-year-old woman was found dead on Sunday at a Eureka Springs creek near the Ozark Mountains, the Associated Press reports.
Local officials said a woman in Christian County, southwestern Missouri, died Saturday in a flash flood. Madelaine Krueger, 72, from Billings, Montana, drowned after rushing water swept away her vehicle; her husband, also in the car, survived, the Christian County Headliner reports.
A man near Durant, Mississippi, about 65 miles north of Jackson, died in a strong storm, though no details were immediately available. Sunday evening, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency confirmed a child in Rankin County had died from electric shock in floodwater.
Patrick Marsh, a warning coordination meteorologist with the NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center, said at least five tornadoes were documented since late Friday night to Saturday, including three in Texas and ones in far eastern Oklahoma and far northwest Arkansas.
Hail, thunderstorms and wind damage also hit a portion of the southeastern quarter of southern plains states, the Midwest and the Southeast, affecting states including Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Montana, Illinois, Georgia and even as far Northeast as Ohio.
“Severe weather in Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas are sweeping East, so ongoing warnings in Alabama and Tennessee” are in effect Sunday, Marsh told HuffPost.
In Canton, Tex., tornadoes flattened homes, stripped and uprooted trees and flipped over vehicles as they cut a path stretching more than 30 miles.
“It is heartbreaking and upsetting to say the least,” Canton Mayor Lou Ann Everett said during a Sunday morning news conference.
Saturday was the night several schools in affected states were to hold proms, but severe weather sparked cancellations. In Canton, the event space “The Rustic Barn” was set to host a local high school’s prom when the tornado sirens began to blare.
“We were having a high school prom for the Edgewood kids last night. Luckily, most of the kids hadn’t got here. There was a few when the sirens started going off,” owner Reagan Sumner told ABC News affiliate, WFAA Channel 8.
Sumner said inside, they could feel the air pressure change and everyone ran inside for shelter.
“We got into the room that was in the front of the building ― the only room still standing. We started hearing the sounds of the roar. All of a sudden it was just explosions, and we had about 15 to 20 people in the bathroom, little babies to older people.” Sumner said.
“That was the only room standing after it was all over,” he added.
Hours before Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) toured the damaged areas by helicopter Sunday, he appeared on Fox News to assure residents that the affected areas would rebuild.
“Just know that we’ve been through these before and working together, Texans will rebuild and restore the loss of property,” Abbott said. “We can’t do anything about the loss of life, but w’ell come together as a team, as we usually do, in the state of Texas.”
Over the weekend, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) declared states of emergency due to weather-related damage.
Marsh said any large, widespread weather event over multiple days is rare in the sense that they don’t occur daily, but he noted they do occur several times a year.
“And when we do have them in the cool, or ‘transition’ season, if they’re going to happen, you tend to get more of the stronger storms during this period,” Marsh said, describing the transitional season as stretching approximately November to May.
“The storm prediction center was forecasting a severe weather event about a week ago,” he added.