Authorities said the death toll was likely to rise as rescuers cleared debris and rescued people trapped in their homes.
At least two people were killed in the central United States as storms and tornadoes tore through the U.S., damaging infrastructure and demolishing homes.
On Wednesday, the National Weather Service (NWS) began issuing severe storm and tornado warnings. More storms are possible throughout Thursday and the death toll is expected to rise as search and rescue efforts begin.
McLean County, Oklahoma, Deputy Sheriff Scott Gibbons said on NBC Network’s Today show about the possibility of more deaths: “Based on the damage we’ve seen, there could be more expected. More deaths are justified.”
Both deaths occurred in McLean County as the storm left a devastating trail in central states including Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa.
7:46 am #SPC Day 1 Outlook Slight Risk: Northern Illinois to Missouri/Alabama and Central/East Texas this afternoon to tonight https://t.co/TgJgC6cQZw pic.twitter.com/sA5lgWKHMS
— NWS Storm Prediction Center (@NWSSPC) April 20, 2023
The county’s emergency services said they were responding to people trapped in their homes and some were taken to hospital with injuries from the storm. The number of injured is not yet known.
More than 16,000 people in Oklahoma were without power as of Thursday morning, according to the PowerOutage.us website. That figure was down from 23,000 at the peak of the severe weather.
The storm spawned tornadoes across the U.S. South, Midwest and Southeast this spring, killing dozens, knocking out power and destroying buildings and power lines.
The rest of the country has also experienced severe weather over the past few months, with major hurricanes hitting states like Florida, western states dealing with widespread flooding and extreme rainfall, and northern states battling severe winter storms.
In late March, 26 people died in tornadoes in Mississippi and Alabama. In early April, a series of tornadoes killed 32 people in states including Indiana, Illinois and Arkansas. A few days later, a tornado in Missouri killed five people.
According to the NWS Storm Prediction Center, the storm is expected to produce more tornadoes Thursday night from Texas to Wisconsin.
“Supercells and storm clusters are expected,” the center said.