NORMAN, Okla. — Tornadoes ripped through parts of the Southern Plains on Monday in an outbreak of violent weather that killed five people, tossed cars off highways, flipped mobile homes and sent baseball-size hail crashing through windshields.
Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management spokesman Jerry Lojka said two people were killed in Oklahoma City and three were killed in Cleveland County, which is south of the city. The agency did not have any additional details, including how the people died.
Officials reported that at least 58 others suffered injuries throughout Oklahoma in the daylong onslaught. Two of the injuries were critical. In some neighborhoods in Oklahoma City, emergency workers were going door to door to make sure everyone was accounted for.
The storms were part of a violent weather system that also spawned twisters in Kansas and that forecasters had been predicting since last week.
Near Seminole, about 60 miles east of Oklahoma City, at least two homes were leveled after a tornado went through, Ernie Willis, emergency management director, said. Emergency responders were going through the area to determine if anyone was hurt or trapped, he said.
Widespread destruction led authorities to close Interstate 40, a major east-west route, in both directions just east of Oklahoma City. Traffic was backed up 3 miles.
Interstate 35, which runs from Mexico to Minnesota, also was closed briefly at the Kansas-Oklahoma border because overturned tractor-trailers blocked all lanes. At Moore, near Oklahoma City, trucks were overturned in the median but the road remained open.
In Kansas, the most serious damage was reported in Belmont. Several homes were damaged in the town east of Topeka and widespread power outages were reported. No injuries were reported.
Hours after hitting Oklahoma, the tornado-producing storm cell was moving into Arkansas.