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Large tornado devastates Cole, Oklahoma, claims at least two lives

Tornadic Storms Erupt in Oklahoma April 19 2023

At least two people have been killed after a large tornado hit Cole, Oklahoma, on April 19, 2023, amid severe weather spawning 15 tornadoes across three states.

A deadly tornado struck the town of Cole, Oklahoma, on April 19, 2023, claiming at least two lives and causing extensive damage to property. This was part of a larger outbreak of severe weather that produced at least 15 tornadoes across Oklahoma, Iowa, and Kansas, with the threat of tornadoes expected to persist into the weekend.

Oklahoma experienced the brunt of the impact on April 19, with eight tornadoes recorded. The most significant of these hit Cole, located 48 km (30 miles) south of Oklahoma City. The National Weather Service (NWS) in Norman, Oklahoma, reported a “significant tornado” at 19:58 CDT northeast of Cole, describing its motion as “erratic.”

Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer was one of the storm-chasers who captured footage of the tornado tearing through the town.

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McClain County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the two fatalities, but Deputy Scott Gibbons warned that the death toll could rise as search and rescue efforts continue in the town of approximately 600 residents. First responders are also addressing multiple reports of people trapped inside shelters.

In addition to the loss of life and damage to homes, a building used as a wedding venue was destroyed in Cole. Debris and first responders blocked off most of the town’s roads following the tornado’s passage.

Around 22:00 CDT, a large and dangerous tornado was confirmed in Shawnee, a city of about 30 000 people in Pottawatomie County, 96 km (60 miles) east of Cole.

The Pottawatomie County emergency management agency urged residents not to leave their homes to survey the damage, as doing so can hinder response efforts.

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In Norman, near Tinker Air Force Base, a tornado was observed on the ground, and large hail damaged a truck at the base.

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Large hail was a consistent threat throughout Oklahoma on April 19, with some of the hailstones nearly the size of a tennis ball.

Elsewhere, a likely tornado was spotted near Elmdale, Kansas, around 20:30 CDT, resulting in debris and an overturned semi, which caused one injury. In Colby, Kansas, a semi was blown over approximately 30 minutes later, causing two injuries.

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In Iowa, Pottawattamie County experienced a reported tornado in the early evening hours, accompanied by severe thunderstorms and tennis ball-sized hail on Interstate 29 near McPaul.

tornado and hail reports us april 19 2023
Tornado and hail reports for April 19, 2023. Data source: NWS/SPC. Image credit: Google, The Watchers
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Featured image: Tornadic storms erupt in Oklahoma on April 19, 2023. Credit: NOAA/GOES-East, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers.

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