Deadly Tornadoes Sweep Oklahoma, Leaving Severe Destruction

( – At least five people died when tornadoes ripped through several states over the weekend of April 27. Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt declared a state of emergency as 20,000 people lost power across 12 counties, and more than 100 people were injured. The tornadoes began on Saturday evening, leaving parts of the town of Sulphur devastated and reduced to rubble. The city has around 5,000 residents, and Governor Stitt said, “It seems like every business downtown has been destroyed.”

The Governor confirmed that 30 Sulphur residents were hospitalized, mostly people struck by flying debris. Officials said a tornado formed in a local park before hitting downtown, flipping cars, and tearing roofs from buildings. Resident Kelly Trussel asked, “How do you rebuild it? This is complete devastation.”

In Marietta, in the south of the state, a man posted a video on social media showing the moment he and his wife realized they were driving directly toward the center of a tornado. Footage also shows the roof of a Dollar Tree distribution center ripped off in one of 25 tornadoes to batter the Sooner State.

Across the country, there were 78 tornadoes throughout the weekend, impacting states including Nebraska, Texas, and Missouri. The National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed that Oklahoma was the worst affected, but around 25,000 people lost power in Texas, and a man died from falling debris in Iowa.

The NWS furthermore described the tornadoes that slammed Sulphur and Marietta in Oklahoma as at least EF-3 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, meaning wind speeds rose above 130 miles per hour.

The National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) describes tornadoes as rotating air columns extending from thunderstorms in the sky to the ground. Around 1,200 occur in the US each year, and they are not visible unless carrying debris or dust, the NSSL explains. Tornado Alley is the name given to a collection of US states with the highest number of what the NSSL describes as “the most violent phenomena of all atmospheric storms.”

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