Tornado Warnings for Truck Drivers Across Mid-Westby Jana Ritter - Published: 5/20/2013
Tornadoes & severe weather struck the states from Texas to Minnesota on Sunday. The worst damage reported was in Oklahoma, where two people were killed and at least 21 injured. After another major tornado wreaked havoc near Oklahoma City Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service has placed Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Texas under tornado, meaning that more tornadoes could develop across the area.
The five-state area is in the heart of a storm system hovering over the Plains and Midwest all the way to Minnesota. More than 60 million Americans are at risk of severe storms on Monday with the primary targets including Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas, the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center warned.
"Damaging wind gusts, large hail and tornadoes are possible in all areas," Weather Channel meteorologist Kevin Roth said. Â But Oklahoma City, Tulsa, St. Louis, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Minneapolis are among the cities most at risk for severe weather Monday, AccuWeather meteorologist Meghan Evans said. Chicago, Detroit, Dallas and Indianapolis also are in the danger zone.
While Gov. Mary Fallin declared an emergency for 16 Oklahoma counties, Interstate 40 was closed by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol after winds overturned semi-tractor trailer trucks and other vehicles. News footage also showed footage of homes, damaged and cars and trucks flipped from highways near Shawnee. Other video showed flashes from electrical transformers blowing out as they were hit by high winds or debris from the tornado near Edmond.
"You can see where there's absolutely nothing, then there are places where you have mobile home frames on top of each other, debris piled up," Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth said after surviving damage. "It looks like there's been heavy equipment in there on a demolition tour. "It's pretty bad. It's pretty much wiped out," Booth said.
While the Oklahoma Corporation Commission reports 23,000 utility customers without power, a warning has been issued to all drivers across the region. One tornado has already flipped three tractor-trailers and damaged four other vehicles at the Interstate-40-U.S. 177 overpass just west of Shawnee, sending several people to hospitals, officials said.
Truck driver David Bergquist said he was under the I-40 bridge near Shawnee as the tornado approached and compared it to a scene right out of “Twister”. “What they did on 'Twister' was pretty damn accurate," he told The Oklahoman. "All I lost was a windshield."
The threat of twisters comes less than a week after tornadoes left six dead, dozens injured and hundreds of homes destroyed in Texas and just shy of the two-year anniversary of the Joplin, Mo., twister.