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Extreme Weather Hits US in Night of Tornadoes

5 dead, many injured, severe weather may continue

Common Dreams staff

A fire burns in the Pinaire mobile home park in Wichita, Kan. Photo: Travis Heying, AP

Up to 121 tornadoes swept through much of the US over the last 24 hours. At least 5 are dead including 2 children, and many injuries have been reported. Survey teams headed out at dawn to investigate and determine the number of actual tornadoes, high winds, and the width and length of their paths. The tornadoes and large storms touched down in Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and other states. The worst damage occurred throughout Oklahoma.

The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. warned of a "high-end, life-threatening event" nearly two days before the storms hit. This was the second time in U.S. history that the center issued a high-risk warning more than 24 hours in advance.

The U.S. tornado season started early this year. Tornadoes have taken the lives of at least 62 people in 2012. 2011 was the deadliest tornado season in a century, and this year looks as though it may continue the pattern.

Forecasters are warning that more tornadoes may touchdown through the country before the day is over.

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Associated Press: Midwest tornadoes: 5 dead, 29 injured in Okla.

Tornadoes raking communities across the Midwest and Plains left five people dead and at least 29 injured in Oklahoma, damaging a hospital, homes and other buildings as a vast severe weather front plunged eastward Sunday across the nation's midsection.

Oklahoma emergency officials said five people died after a tornado touched down at 12:18 a.m. Sunday in and around the northwest Oklahoma town of Woodward, the high winds damaging homes, toppling trees and downing power lines about 140 miles northwest of Oklahoma City. The brunt of the damage was reported on the west side of the town of about 12,000 and its outskirts, where search teams scoured the rubble for hours for any still trapped or injured.

Storms also were reported in Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska as a wide-ranging storm system lumbered its way across the nation's midsection Saturday and Sunday. Lightning, large hail and heavy downpours accompanied the system, which was so large that it still posed a severe weather threat from Minnnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan in the north to eastern Texas and Louisiana hundreds of miles to the south. [...]

A deputy director in Cain's office, Michelann Ooten, told AP that emergency crews remained very much in search and rescue mode at first light, hours after they began operations in darkness.

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Reuters: At least five dead in Oklahoma as tornadoes pound Plains

The U.S. tornado season started early this year, with twisters already blamed for 62 deaths in 2012 in the Midwest and South, raising concerns that this year would be a repeat of 2011, the deadliest tornado year in nearly a century.

Some 550 people died in tornadoes last year, including 316 killed in an April outbreak in five Southern states, and 161 people in Joplin, Missouri, the following month.

As of early Sunday morning, the National Weather Service website said it had received preliminary reports of 121 tornadoes across four states over the previous 24 hours. Some could be duplicate reports of the same tornado and it usually takes experts at least a day or so to confirm if they were tornadoes.

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