EL RENO, Okla. — Violent storms that swept through a swath of the central U.S. killed at least nine people in three states, toppling trees, crushing cars and tearing through a rural Arkansas fire station.
The high-powered storms arrived as forecast Tuesday night and early Wednesday, just days after a massive tornado tore through the southwest Missouri town of Joplin and killed 122 people. After killing two people in Kansas and five in Oklahoma, they continued their trek east into Arkansas.
Arkansas Department of Emergency Management spokesman Tommy Jackson says at least one person died after a tornado ripped through the tiny community of Denning in Franklin County early Wednesday. Another person died after storms hit neighboring Johnson County. There weren't any immediate details about how either person died. There weren't any immediate details about either death.
Just outside Denning, winery owner Eugene Post listened to the tornado from his porch. He saw the lights flicker, as the storms yanked power away from his community.
"I didn't see anything," Post, 83, said early Wednesday. "I could hear it real loud though. ... It sounded like a train — or two or three — going by."
A number of people were injured in Franklin County, though officials weren't sure exactly how many. A local fire station was left without a roof as emergency workers tried to rush to the wounded. Downed trees and power lines tossed across roadways also slowed search-and-rescue crews' efforts.
Hours earlier, several tornadoes struck Oklahoma City and its suburbs during the Tuesday night rush hour, killing at least five people and injuring at least 60 others, including three children who were in critical condition, authorities said.
Some residents said they had been warned about the impending weather for days and were watching television or listening to the radio so they would know when to take cover.
"We live in Oklahoma and we don't mess around," Lori Jenkins said. "We kept an eye on the weather and knew it was getting close."
She took refuge with her husband and two children in a neighbor's storm shelter in the Oklahoma City suburb of Guthrie. When they emerged, they discovered their carport had been destroyed and the back of their home was damaged.
Cherokee Ballard, a spokeswoman for the state medical examiner, said four people died west of Oklahoma City in Canadian County, where a weather-monitoring site in El Reno recorded 151 mph winds.
At Chickasha, 25 miles southwest of Oklahoma City, a 26-year-old woman died when a tornado hit a mobile home park where residents had been asked to evacuate their trailers, Assistant Police Chief Elip Moore said. He said a dozen people were injured and that hundreds were displaced when the storm splintered their homes.
In Kansas, police said two people died when high winds threw a tree into their van around 6 p.m. near the small town of St. John, about 100 miles west of Wichita. The highway was shut down because of storm damage.
Steve Piltz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Tulsa, Okla., said a strong tornado touched down near Denning, but weather officials weren't able to estimate how fast the winds were blowing without first doing ground surveys.
The path of the storms included Joplin, which is cleaning up from a Sunday storm that was the nation's eighth-deadliest twister among records dating to 1840. Late-night tornado sirens had Joplin's residents ducking for cover again before the storm brushed past without serious problems.