ROFF, Okla. – The Latest on severe weather in the Plains (all times local):
The National Weather Service says a tornado bearing down on two communities in southern Oklahoma could inflict “catastrophic” damage.
Forecasters issued a tornado emergency for the small towns of Roff and Hickory, which are near Sulphur in southern Oklahoma. It warned that residents of the towns were “in a life-threatening situation.”
Television station video showed a large tornado on the ground about 70 miles south of Oklahoma City. The area is largely rural, but a number of small towns dot the landscape. Roff has a population of 725; Hickory’s is 71.
An early storm damaged some buildings near Wynnewood, including a home and a barn.
A tornado described by weather forecasters as “large and extremely dangerous” cut a path through the Oklahoma landscape. There were no immediate reports of injuries after the twister cut through a mostly rural area.
The Storm Prediction Center had warned that a “substantial tornado risk” could develop Monday in portions of the Southern Plains and the Ozarks. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol closed a five-mile section of Interstate 35 between Oklahoma City and Dallas as the storm approached.
Meteorologists said twisters with wind speeds above 111 mph were possible from eastern Oklahoma to central Arkansas. Hail 2 inches or more in diameter is possible from eastern Texas to southeastern Kansas.
About 41 million people from Houston to Sioux City, Iowa, are at risk for some type of stormy weather.