At least three tornadoes hit Oklahoma City and the metro area Friday night, killing at least five people, the Oklahoma medical examiner’s office says. People were trapped in their vehicles as a storm swept down an interstate highway while commuters tried to beat it home.
A mother and a child were killed when their car rolled over, KFOR-TV reported. About 50 other people were hurt, five critically, the Associated Press reports. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said several motorists were injured and others were missing.
One tornado was reported on the ground in Moore, where a mammoth May 20 twister killed 24 people and left the southern Oklahoma City suburb in ruins, KOKH-TV reported. “Please try to get to a building or safe shelter!” the weather service in Norman tweeted. Winds were reportedly between 80 and 100 mph. Tornado warnings were posted for several central Oklahoma counties. As the storms raced east, multiple funnel clouds touched down west of Oklahoma City, with TV video capturing one violent tornado on the ground.
Cars and tractor-trailers flipped on I-40, and motorists were stranded bumper to bumper on I-35 in what the weather service described as “a parking lot.”
Emergency officials reported that numerous injuries occurred in the area along I-40, and Randolph said there were toppled and wrecked cars littering the area. Troopers requested a number of ambulances at I-40 near Yukon, west of Oklahoma City.
Heavy rain and hail hampered rescue efforts in Oklahoma City. Frequent lightning roiled the skies well after the main threat had moved east. Highways and streets were clogged late into the night as motorists worked their way around flooded portions of the city.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Betsy Randolph said troopers found the bodies of a woman and an infant near their vehicle. Randolph said it’s not known if the woman was driving into the storm when it hit around 7 p.m. Friday.
Standing water was several feet deep, and in some places it looked more like a hurricane had passed through than a tornado.
In Missouri, the combination of high water and fallen power lines closed dozen of roads, snarling traffic on highways and side streets in the St. Louis area. At the Hollywood Casino in suburban of Maryland Heights, gamblers rushed from the floor as a storm blew out windows and tore off part of the roof.
Friday evening’s weather came after flash flooding and tornadoes killed three people in Arkansas late Thursday and early Friday. Three others were missing in floods that followed 6 inches of rain in the rugged Ouachita Mountains near Y City, 125 miles west of Little Rock.
This spring’s tornado season got a late start, with unusually cool weather keeping funnel clouds at bay until mid-May. The season usually starts in March and then ramps up for the next couple of months.