Tornadoes smash through central and southern US

Tornadoes smash through central and southern US

Several tornadoes touched down in the US on Sunday as a powerful storm system moved through the central and southern parts of the country.

At least 12 people are thought dead in Oklahoma and Arkansas with extensive damage having been caused in the town of Mayflower, north of the city of Little Rock, Arkansas.

Matt DeCample, a spokesman for Arkansas governor Mike Beebe said that there had been 11 reported deaths in Arkansas so far; 10 in Faulkner and Pulaski counties and one in White County.

The Arkansas tornado, which was on the ground off-and-on for nearly 80 miles, was one of several tornadoes that touched down on Sunday, as a large storm system moved through parts of the Plains, Midwest and South.

Less than two hours before the Arkansas tornado struck, the tornado hit Quapaw, a community of about 900 residents in North-eastern Oklahoma near its border with Kansas and Missouri.

Ottawa County Emergency Management director Joe Dan Morgan said Quapaw was heavily damaged by the tornado.

"Looks like about half of town got extensive damage as well as the fire department," Morgan said.

Storm ratings for Sunday’s tornadoes have not yet been released; the US has not experienced a tornado rated EF3 or higher since November 17, 2013; the longest period without an EF3 or higher on record.

If Sunday’s tornadoes are rated at EF3 or higher then it will be the latest date for a year’s first EF3 storm or higher.

Tornadoes also touched down Sunday in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri.

One struck northwest of Joplin, Missouri, where a large tornado in May 2011 killed 161 people, injured many others and destroyed a large proportion of the city; Sunday’s tornado didn’t hit Joplin.

On May 20 2013 an EF5 tornado struck Moore Oklahoma killing 24 people and injuring 377.

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