At least 90 people are feared dead after multiple tornadoes struck the United States on Friday night, tearing through Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee.
The tornadoes were the product of a weather system that was causing intense weather events across the country, including intense torrents of snowfall throughout the Midwest and western Great Lakes.
Aerial footage shows scale of damage in Mayfield, Kentucky, after catastrophic tornado outbreak.
Officials fear there are at least 50 dead in Kentucky.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 11, 2021
Governor Andy Beshear of Kentucky declared a state of emergency after the tornadoes had reached the area on Friday. The storm razed a 200 mile path through the state with homes and buildings collapsing in its wake. Officials already anticipate this to be one of the worst weather events in Kentucky’s history.
At least 80 people in his state alone had lost their lives during the tornadoes’ impact. Officials expect the death toll to grow higher as the week progresses and authorities have a clearer understanding of the amount of damage done by the storm.
President Joe Biden made a speech from Delaware on Saturday afternoon pledging his support for the states that had been impacted by the storm, saying that his administration would “do everything it can possibly do to help.” Biden also said that he had approved Beshear’s emergency declaration for Kentucky and that he plans to travel there once his presence was “not going to get in the way of the rescue and recovery.”
Video shows a large tornado whirling in Sacramento, Kentucky.
— ABC News (@ABC) December 11, 2021
One person at a nursing home in Arkansas was killed during the storm.
Dozens of people killed by tornadoes
The tornadoes also caused the roof of an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, to cave in completely, enclosing workers in the rubble with no escape. The Edwardsville Police Department said on Saturday morning that the storm led to “catastrophic damage to a significant portion” of the warehouse. Police officers and emergency workers are currently searching the wreckage for survivors. They confirmed that there were 6 deaths at the warehouse but that the search through the wreckage was still ongoing.
Hundreds of thousands of homes throughout the affected states were without power for the entirety of Saturday. PowerOutage.us is currently logging information about the states affected by the storm.
“This is what we would call a tornado outbreak, where you have a storm system which produces a number of tornadoes over a large geographical area,” said Dan Pydynowski, a meteorologist who works with AccuWeather.
The weather system responsible for the tornadoes is much more powerful than anticipated. This area of the country usually experiences storms this intense between May and April.
“It’s certainly not unheard of,” Pydynowski said about this season’s ptornadoes, “but to have an outbreak of this magnitude, with this many tornado reports — it’s a little unusual for this time of year.”
“It was unusually warm, and there was moisture in place,” he said, “and you had a strong cold front end. These are the ingredients for big storms in the spring, but not in mid-December.”
Meterologist Craig Ceece said that “Communities [are] being hit hard. And we won’t know how bad it is until morning. We have to think and pray for those being affected.”