Multiple tornadoes crushed through parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa overnight, with one claiming at least five lives early Sunday morning, according to a Reuters report. All of the victims lived in the small northwest Oklahoman city of Woodward, population 12,000, whose siren had been disabled by lightning, according to Mayor Roscoe Hill. Two of the victims were children who lived in a mobile home park; two other adults were killed just outside the city limits. No details regarding the fifth victim have yet been released, though a third child is listed as missing.
The storms did not come without warning: The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, who specialize in predicting tornadoes, issued a prediction of a "high-end, life-threatening event" hitting the region 48 hours before the storms hit. The warning is being credited with saving lives. Also minimizing casualties was the fact that many of the tornadoes had hit sparsely populated regions, and during hours when residents were still awake.
Despite no reported deaths in his state, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback declared a state of emergency, saying 11,000 Kansans are currently without power. A hangar at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita was damaged in the storms, as were several homes in the area.
Today, more dangerous storms are forecast. The areas most in danger are Oklahoma, Nebraska and Kansas, though residents from Minnesota to Texas are bracing for rough winds and "baseball-sized" hail.
Pictured: Storm chaser photographer Brad Mack films a tornado over the 135 freeway near Moundridge, Kansas, on April 14, 2012.