At least 15 dead after severe weather carves path of ruin across multiple states in the South (2024)

By SEAN MURPHY and JULIO CORTEZ (Associated Press)

VALLEY VIEW, Texas (AP) — Powerful storms killed at least 15 people, injured hundreds and left a wide trail of destruction Sunday across Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas after obliterating homes and destroying a truck stop where dozens sought shelter in a restroom during the latest deadly weather to strike the central U.S.

The storms inflicted their worst damage in a region spanning from north of Dallas to the northwest corner of Arkansas, and the system threatened to bring more violent weather to other parts of the Midwest later in the day. By Monday, forecasters said, the greatest risk would shift to the east, covering a broad swath of the country from Alabama to near New York City.

Seven deaths were reported in Cooke County, Texas, near the Oklahoma border, where a tornado Saturday night plowed through a rural area near a mobile home park, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said at a news conference Sunday. The dead included two children, ages 2 and 5. Three family members were found dead in one home, according to the county sheriff.

Storms also killed two people and destroyed houses in Oklahoma, where the injured included guests at an outdoor wedding, five people in Arkansas and one person in Kentucky. Tens of thousands of residents were without power across the region.

In Texas, about 100 people were injured and more than 200 homes and structures destroyed, said Abbott, sitting in front of a ravaged truck stop near the small agricultural community of Valley View. The area was among the hardest-hit, with winds reaching an estimated 135 mph (217 kph), officials said.

“The hopes and dreams of Texas families and small businesses have literally been crushed by storm after storm,” said Abbott, whose state has seen successive bouts of severe weather, including storms that killed eight people in Houston.

Hugo Parra, who lives in Farmers Branch, north of Dallas, said he rode out the storm with 40 to 50 people in the bathroom of the truck stop. The storm sheared the roof and walls off the building, mangling metal beams and leaving battered cars in the parking lot.

“A firefighter came to check on us and he said, ‘You’re very lucky,’” Parra said. “The best way to describe this is the wind tried to rip us out of the bathrooms.”

Multiple people were transported to hospitals by ambulance and helicopter in Denton County, also north of Dallas.

No more deaths are expected and nobody was reported missing in Texas, said Abbott, though responders were doing one more round of searches just in case.

At least five people were killed in Arkansas. One was a 26-year-old woman who was found dead outside a destroyed home in Olvey, a small community in Boone County, according to Daniel Bolen of the county’s emergency management office. One person died in Benton County, and two more bodies were found in Marion County, officials said.

In Oklahoma, two people died in Mayes County, east of Tulsa, officials said.

In Kentucky, a man was killed Sunday in Louisville when a tree fell on him, police said. Louisville Mayor Craig Greenburg confirmed it was a storm-related death on social media.


The destruction continued a grim month of deadly severe weather in the nation’s midsection.

Tornadoes in Iowa last week left at least five people dead and dozens injured. The deadly twisters have spawned during a historically bad season for tornadoes, at a time when climate change contributes to the severity of storms around the world. April had the second-highest number of tornadoes on record in the country.

Meteorologists and authorities issued urgent warnings to seek cover as the storms marched across the region late Saturday and into Sunday. “If you are in the path of this storm take cover now!” the National Weather Service office in Norman, Oklahoma, posted on X.

Harold Brooks, a senior scientist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, said a persistent pattern of warm, moist air is to blame for the string of tornadoes over the past two months.

Brooks recommended that travelers passing through threatened areas over the Memorial Day weekend have a plan for a weather emergency.

Travelers who have already chosen where to get food and other essentials “probably ought to be thinking about what could I do if there’s a dangerous situation to save my life,” Brooks said.


Residents awoke Sunday to overturned cars and collapsed garages. Some residents could be seen pacing and assessing the damage. Nearby, neighbors sat on the foundation of a wrecked home.

In Valley View, near the truck stop, the storms ripped the roofs off homes and blew out windows. Clothing, insulation, bits of plastic and other pieces of debris were wrapped around miles of barbed wire fence line surrounding grazing land in the rural area.

Kevin Dorantes, 20, was in nearby Carrollton when he learned the tornado was bearing down on the Valley View neighborhood where he lived with his father and brother. He called the two of them and told them to take cover in the windowless bathroom, where they rode out the storm and survived unharmed.

As Dorantes wandered through the neighborhood of downed power lines and devastated houses, he came upon a family whose home was reduced to a pile of splintered rubble. A father and son were trapped under debris, and friends and neighbors raced to get them out, Dorantes said.

“They were conscious but severely injured,” Dorantes said. “The father’s leg was snapped.”


The severe weather knocked out power for tens of thousands of homes and businesses in the path of the storms.

By late Sunday, more than 80,000 customers in Arkansas were without power. In neighboring Missouri, more than 90,000 were also without power. Texas reported 27,000 outages while 3,000 were reported in Oklahoma, according to the tracking website

Inaccessible roads and downed power lines in Oklahoma also led officials in the town of Claremore, near Tulsa, to announce on social media that the city was “shut down” due to the damage.


The system causing the latest severe weather was expected to move east over the rest of the holiday weekend.

The Indianapolis 500 started four hours late after a strong storm pushed into the area, forcing Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials to evacuate about 125,000 race fans.

More severe storms were predicted in Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee.

The risk of severe weather moves into North Carolina and Virginia on Monday, forecasters said.


Associated Press reporters Sophia Tareen in Chicago; Kathy McCormack in Concord, N.H.; Acacia Coronado in Austin, Texas; Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina; Sara Cline in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Jesse Bedayn in Denver contributed to this report.

At least 15 dead after severe weather carves path of ruin across multiple states in the South (2024)


How fast do tornadoes move? ›

Movement can range from almost stationary to more than 60 mph. A typical tornado travels at around 10–20 miles per hour. How long is a tornado usually on the ground?

Is Tornado Alley in the Great Plains? ›

Most tornadoes are found in the Great Plains of the central United States – an ideal environment for the formation of severe thunderstorms. In this area, known as Tornado Alley, storms are caused when dry cold air moving south from Canada meets warm moist air traveling north from the Gulf of Mexico.

How are tornadoes named or classified? ›

The Enhanced Fujita Scale or EF Scale, which became operational on February 1, 2007, is used to assign a tornado a 'rating' based on estimated wind speeds and related damage.

What are the effects of tornadoes? ›

All tornadoes produce damage, but the most violent ones can cause automobiles to become airborne, rip homes to shreds, and turn broken glass and other debris into lethal missiles. The biggest tornado threat to human beings is from flying debris in the wind.

What is the fastest moving tornado in the world? ›

Highest forward speed

The highest accepted forward speed of an intense tornado on record was 73 mph (117 km/h) from the 1925 Tri-State tornado. Other weak tornadoes have approached or exceeded this speed, but this is the fastest forward movement observed in a major tornado.

Is there an F7 tornado? ›

First of all, it is impossible to assign a rating higher than F5. While Fujita defined wind speeds for categories all the way up to F12, actual tornado ratings are based on the severity of the damage a tornado inflicts, not wind speed. F5 damage is total destruction, e.g. houses completely blown away.

Where is Tornado Alley in the United States in 2024? ›

While there is no official designation, the area known as Tornado Alley is generally designated as between Texas and South Dakota. AccuWeather identified the area as northern Texas northward through Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri and parts of Louisiana, Iowa, Nebraska and eastern Colorado.

What is the number one state for tornadoes? ›

The number in each state depicts the average annual number of tornadoes based on the 20-year period from 2003 to 2022. The two most active states for tornadoes are Texas, with 124, and Kansas, with 87, in an average year.

What 4 states are Tornado Alley? ›

Tornado Alley is a part of the central United States with a unique combination of geographic and meteorological factors that make it more susceptible to tornadoes. This area encompasses much of northern Texas northward through Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri and parts of Louisiana, Iowa, Nebraska, and eastern Colorado.

Has there ever been a F6 tornado? ›

In total, two tornadoes received the rating of F6, but both were later downgraded to F5. Based on aerial photographs of the damage it caused, Fujita assigned the strongest tornado of the 1974 Super Outbreak, which affected Xenia, Ohio, a preliminary rating of F6 intensity ± 1 scale.

What does f stand for in tornadoes? ›

Incredible. The Fujita (F) Scale was originally developed by Dr. Tetsuya Theodore Fujita to estimate tornado wind speeds based on damage left behind by a tornado. An Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale, developed by a forum of nationally renowned meteorologists and wind engineers, makes improvements to the original F scale.

What is an E5 tornado? ›

In order for a tornado to receive an EF-5 rating, the NWS says the damage must be catastrophic. Winds in an EF-5 twister are greater than 200 mph.

What was the worst tornado in history? ›

1. The Tri-State Tornado. On March 18, 1925, the deadliest single tornado in the history of the United States occurred. The enormous storm affected people in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana, hence the name.

What are four signs of a tornado? ›

Look for the following danger signs:
  • Dark, often greenish sky.
  • Large hail.
  • A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating).
  • Loud roar, much like a freight train.
  • If you see oncoming storms or any of these danger signs, be ready to take shelter quickly.

How far can a tornado throw a person? ›

The NWS GPS system measured the distance from the mobile home to the field where Suter woke up as 1,307 feet, roughly a quarter-mile. Fifteen years to the date, the distance still hold the Guinness World Book record for the longest distance anyone has even been thrown by a tornado and survived.

What is the top speed of a tornado? ›

The highest wind speed ever recorded in a tornado was 302 miles per hour, (486 km/h). Oddly, two tornadoes share this record. The first was from a tornado that hit Oklahoma City and its suburbs on May 3, 1999. The second was near El Reno Oklahoma on May 31, 2013.

Can a tornado be 30 mph? ›

They have an average speed of 30 mph, but speeds can vary from nearly stationary to 70 mph. Normally a tornado will stay on the ground no more than 20 minutes, however, one tornado can touch the ground several times in different areas.

Can a person outrun a tornado? ›

Don't Try to Outrun the Tornado

Most tornados clock in at 10 to 20mph, but some can go faster than a car on the highway. Even if you step on the gas, your chances are slim to none of outrunning a tornado. When the sirens begin to sound, seek shelter immediately and don't leave until the storm is over.

How fast do tornadoes spin in mph? ›

The winds inside the spinning column of some tornadoes are the fastest of any on Earth. They have been clocked at over 300 miles per hour!

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Chrissy Homenick

Last Updated:

Views: 6450

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (74 voted)

Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Chrissy Homenick

Birthday: 2001-10-22

Address: 611 Kuhn Oval, Feltonbury, NY 02783-3818

Phone: +96619177651654

Job: Mining Representative

Hobby: amateur radio, Sculling, Knife making, Gardening, Watching movies, Gunsmithing, Video gaming

Introduction: My name is Chrissy Homenick, I am a tender, funny, determined, tender, glorious, fancy, enthusiastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.