At least six people lost their lives in the small town of Vilonia, Arkansas Sunday after a tornado spawned by a powerful storm system struck. The small community is said to be facing a “mass casualty” situation. Nearby interstate 40 was closed in both directions Sunday night after numerous vehicles were overturned. A massive storm system moved through Arkansas Sunday evening as several tornadoes were being reported across the state. Two people were killed in the small city of Quapaw, Oklahoma on Sunday. A police dispatcher in Ottawa County confirmed the deaths and reported that a search and rescue operation was getting underway in Quapaw. Tornado reports were also coming in Sunday night in portions of Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri according to the National Weather Service.
FEMA said on Sunday that there was a real threat for life-threatening, damaging storms and tornadoes for the central part of the country Sunday through Monday and possibly even into Tuesday for some areas. The agency warned people living in many Midwestern and southern states to be on their toes as the threat of severe weather was due to intensify. That threat includes the possibility of tornadoes developing. The risk for twisters will rise throughout the day on Monday form a large swatch of land stretching from Omaha, NE to northern Louisiana. Even if tornadoes do not develop, there is a good probability that hail the size of baseballs will develop and wind gusts could reach hurricane-force.
Authorities in Cherokee County, Kansas said a tornado struck Baxter Springs and injured several people and did extensive damage to homes and businesses. First responders there were going door-to-door to check on the well-being of over 4,000 residents. Television footage in Little Rock, Arkansas showed many badly damaged buildings and vehicles Sunday night as a large tornado ripped through several suburbs west of the city of Little Rock. Many trees were stripped bare of their leaves and smaller branches.
One of the tornadoes that formed Sunday touched down near Joplin, Missouri where a massive tornado in spring of 2011 claimed the lives of 161 people and injured many others. Luckily that twister missed Joplin.