A violent tornado outbreak took place across the U.S. South and Midwest on Friday, December 10 into Saturday, December 11, 2021, placing more than 16 million people under a tornado watch.
- In 24 hours to 11:10 UTC on December 11, the NWS Storm Prediction Center logged 32 tornado reports in Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Illinois.
- One of the worst affected states is Kentucky where the death toll could reach or exceed 100.
- Kentucky was hit by numerous tornadoes, including one recognized by the NWS to be one of the longest in history.
- More than 300 000 customers were left without power, with most of them in Tennessee.
A violent tornado touched down some 40 km (25 miles) from Jonesboro, severely damaging the Monette Manor Nursing Home where at least 2 people were killed and 5 others injured. Craighead County Judge Marvin Day said at least 20 people were trapped inside.1
"Everyone has been taken out of the nursing home and is accounted for," the town's mayor Bob Blankenship said. "We have a triage center set up at the local school where people are being treated and others have been transported to local hospitals."2
Initial reports said the tornado was on the ground for 90 minutes with winds in excess of 455 km/h (283 mph).
— Brian Emfinger (@brianemfinger) December 11, 2021
Major tornado damage was reported in Kentucky, whose Governor Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency and activated the Kentucky Guard and State Police.
Governor Beshear said Saturday morning there were likely over 50 deaths statewide, adding there might be anywhere from 70 to 100 fatalities due to tornado outbreak.
Beshear added that one of the tornadoes, which originated in Arkansas and traversed over 320 km (200 miles) in Kentucky, is being recognized by the NWS to be one of the longest in history.
"It's been one of the toughest nights in Kentucky history and some areas have been hit in ways that are hard to put into words," Beshear said in a news conference.
More than 100 people were working in a factory in Mayfield that was ripped apart by a large and violent tornado.
"There were about 110 people in it at the time that the tornado hit it," Beshear said.
"We believe we’ll lose at least dozens of those individuals. It's very hard, really tough, and we’re praying for each and every one of those families."3
At least 100 people had to be evacuated from the Amazon distribution center in Edwardsville, Illinois, after a tornado damaged half of the building, including its roof. Several people were killed as a result.
"It's devastating to see the amount of damage there and to know there were people inside when that happened," Edwardsville Police Chief Michael Fillback told CNN.
Fillback said several people who were in the building were taken by bus to the police station in nearby Pontoon Beach for evaluation. Early Saturday, rescue crews were still sorting through the rubble. Fillback said the process would last for several hours. Cranes and backhoes were brought in to help move debris.4
At least 100 emergency vehicles had descended upon the warehouse about 40 km (25 miles) east of St. Louis.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many people were hurt, but one person was flown by helicopter to a hospital.
Three storm-related deaths were confirmed in Tennessee, said Dean Flener, spokesman for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. Two of the deaths occurred in Lake County, and the third was in Obion County — both in the northwestern corner of the state.
Multiple people were reported trapped across Kenton, Tennessee, where the NWS reported 6 – 12 homes completely destroyed.
There was one confirmed fatality and 2 injuries around nearby Defiance, Missouri.
More than 300 000 customers were left without power on Friday, with most of them in Tennessee.
As of 11:50 UTC on Saturday, 137 692 customers were still without power in Tennessee, 56 166 in Kentucky, 35 370 in Indiana ad 32 141 in Illinois.
1 Nighttime tornadoes wreak havoc across South, Midwest – AccuWeather
2 Powerful storm rolls across central US, unleashing at least 19 tornadoes – CNN
3 Kentucky Governor Says Up to 100 Dead After Tornadoes Rip Through South, Midwest – Weather.com
4 Deadly tornadoes, storms strike US; roof collapse at Amazon – AP
Featured image credit: NOAA/GOES-16, RAMM/CIRA, TW. Acquired at 01:30 UTC on December 11, 2021
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