Tornadoes touch down in Texas and beyond

Wesley Mantooth lifts a chair through a window of his father's home in Abilene, Texas, on May 18. Residents said a tornado struck in the early-morning hours.
Wesley Mantooth lifts a chair through a window of his father’s home in Abilene, Texas, on May 18. Residents said a tornado struck in the early-morning hours.
(Ronald W. Erdrich / Associated Press)

A spate of tornadoes raked across the Southern Plains on Saturday, leaving damage and causing injuries, with parts of the region bracing for more severe thunderstorms and possible flooding.

The National Weather Service confirmed an EF-2 twister Saturday morning with winds up to 130 mph that destroyed at least two homes and left one person with minor injuries in southwestern Oklahoma.

A suspected tornado caused roof damage to “numerous” homes in northwestern Arkansas, a state official said, and severe winds downed trees and power lines across a highway, blocking all lanes.

Energy companies in Oklahoma and Arkansas reported tens of thousands of customers were without power Saturday afternoon.


Tornadoes touched down Friday in Kansas and rural Nebraska, tearing up trees and power lines, and damaging homes and farm buildings, according to the National Weather Service.

In Abilene, Texas, 150 miles west of Fort Worth, strong winds prompted the evacuation of a nursing home and left many homes and businesses damaged, according to the Abilene Reporter-News. A spokeswoman for the city said no deaths or serious injuries were reported.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for the western half of Arkansas. Portions of North Texas also were under a tornado watch, and a flash-flood warning was issued in the Dallas area.

Forecasters warned of heavy rain, lightning, ping-pong-ball-sized hail and flooding as a line of storms moved west to east, covering an area from south of Killeen, Texas, to north of the Oklahoma state line.


In Oklahoma City, thunderstorms prevented workers from securing and removing glass from Devon Tower, which was damaged Wednesday when a scaffolding holding two window washers banged against the building, the Oklahoman reported. Officials said the rain and wind blew broken glass from the tower and compromised the integrity of other panes.

Fire officials in Comanche County, Okla., said that two people escaped from a home destroyed by a tornado without injury, and another person was taken to a hospital as a precaution.

Meanwhile, in Montana, snowmelt and rain have caused the Clark Fork River to rise, with officials issuing a flood warning.

National Weather Service data showed the Clark Fork above Missoula in minor flood stage at 8.6 feet Friday morning.


Ray Nickless of the weather service said recent warm weather was melting mountain snowpack and rain was expected to add to the rising flows.

The flood warning includes the same Missoula neighborhood that flooded at this time last year and forced the evacuation of dozens of homes.

Last, year the river crested at 13.8 feet, the highest level recorded in more than a century.