At least 18 dead across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas in severe storms

Across the five states affected, 25 tornadoes were reported.

ByCory Peeler, Bill Hutchinson, Leah Sarnoff, and Jolie Lash ABCNews logo
Monday, May 27, 2024
At least 18 dead across 5 states after severe storms
Severe storms over the weekend led to the deaths of at least 18 people across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas.

Severe storms over the weekend led to the deaths of at least 18 people across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas, according to information from the Associated Press and updated information from Arkansas late Sunday night.

Across the five states affected, 25 tornadoes were reported, according to officials.

Texas hit hard

In Texas, seven people died, and more than one hundred were injured as the severe weather swept through the state, Gov. Greg Abbott said at a news conference on Sunday evening.

Abbott said 106 counties in Texas were under disaster declarations.

More than 200 homes or structures were destroyed and another 120 damaged, Texas officials said Sunday, following tornado activity that was preliminarily an EF2 with 125 mph winds.

Abbott mourned those who were killed in the storms, saying, "There's only one thing that cannot be rebuilt, and that's a loss of life -- That's why we always stress to everybody, whatever you do in any type of storm, put life first."

A 2-year-old and a 5-year-old from the same family were killed in Cooke County, Texas, officials said. The children were among the seven people who were killed in the area, which is north of Dallas, the Cooke County Sheriff's Office told The Associated Press on Sunday.

The tornado that went through Cooke County was preliminarily rated an EF-2 with winds up to 135 mph.

The storm tore through a roadside travel center near Valley View, Texas, before continuing through a community of manufactured homes, according to Cooke County, Texas, Sheriff Ray Sappington.

More than 60 people were injured, he told Dallas-Fort Worth ABC affiliate WFAA.

Most of those fatalities occurred at the nearby FRF Estates in Valley View, a community of manufactured homes about 60 miles northwest of Dallas, according to Sappington.

He said emergency response crews were combing the development for survivors Sunday morning amid "major damage."

Sappington said another hard-hit area was the Gateway AP Travel Center in Valley View, where many people pulled off the road to seek shelter in the parking lot or in the truck stop's restrooms. Sappington said 60 to 80 people were injured at the facility.

"The storm has caused significant damage to numerous homes and businesses, including the Gateway AP Travel Center, which received major damage," the Cooke County Sheriff's Office said in a statement Sunday morning. "Emergency services are actively searching the debris for missing persons, and there have been numerous injuries of varying degrees reported."

Sappington warned people to stay away from the storm-damaged areas as emergency crews searched for survives and cleared roads of debris.

"It would really help if people just stayed away right now, gave us a few hours to get our search and rescue done," Sappington said. "I know some people were out of the area and trying to get back, but it's dangerous out there. Power lines are down. There have been reports of gas leaks. It's just dangerous right now. Just give us some time to do what we need to do. We're trying to still rescue people. The best thing people can do right now is give us a little time."

Meanwhile, a landslide closed both directions of Highway 340 in Bella Vista, Texas, according to the Bella Vista Police Department. The highway was closed after the ground underneath the roadway was washed out by heavy rains and "compromised the road surface," police said.

2 killed in Arkansas, officials say

Arkansas officials said at least two people were killed when a possible tornado hit early Sunday morning. One person was found dead in Benton County in the northwest part of the state, and a 26-year-old woman was discovered dead outside a destroyed home in Olvey in Boone County, officials said.

In addition to the two deaths, several people were injured in Benton County, Barry Moehring, a Benton County judge, said during a news conference.

At least one possible tornado ripped through the Benton County town of Decatur and two others appeared to touch down near Beaver Lake, Moehring said.

Numerous trees and powerlines were knocked down in the storm and powerful straight-line winds also caused significant damage in Bentonville, where part of the courthouse was destroyed, Moehring said.

He said emergency crews were responding to reports of people trapped in the rubble.

Police in Rogers, Arkansas, also in Benton County, posted photos Sunday on Facebook showing widespread damage in downtown Rogers. The Rogers Police Department said emergency teams were searching for survivors and assessing the damage.

"All our major streets have trees or are closed, and we are still responding and trying to get to calls. Too many cars on the streets hamper our response," the Rogers Police Department said in a Facebook post asking people not to drive around barricades.

2 deaths in Oklahoma

At least two people were killed when a possible tornado hit Pryor, Oklahoma, about 45 miles east of Tulsa, the Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner told Tulsa ABC affiliate KTUL.

Latest forecasts

The threat of more severe weather on Sunday shifted east over parts of the Mississippi and Ohio River valley, where multiple rounds of strong storms are possible.

The National Weather Service issued tornado watches through 3 p.m. CT on Sunday for parts of central Kentucky -- including the cities of Louisville and Bowling Green -- and western and middle Tennessee, including Nashville and Knoxville.

Severe storms are forecast to hit a wide swath of the Great Plains on Sunday night and move into Iowa, where residents are still cleaning up from a series of deadly hurricanes that struck near Des Moines on Tuesday night, leveling half of the town of Greenfield and killing four people, officials said.

The most intense storms are expected across parts of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, northern Tennessee and the southwestern edge of Ohio, where there is an enhanced risk of damaging winds, hail and tornadoes.

In addition to the severe thunderstorm and tornado threats, potentially dangerous flash flooding is forecast from Sunday afternoon and into Sunday night from southern Missouri to much of Kentucky.

Strong, slow-moving thunderstorms are expected Sunday afternoon and could produce torrential rain and flash flooding in several states, including Illinois, Tennessee and Kentucky. The greatest threat of flooding is expected to occur in southern Illinois around Carbondale.