Three dead after eight tornadoes hit Oklahoma, officials say

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(NEW YORK) — At least three people are dead in Oklahoma after a string of tornadoes broke out Wednesday night, officials said.

There have been eight confirmed tornadoes in the state, according to the National Weather Service.

McClain County Emergency Management confirmed that a “large and extremely dangerous tornado” was over Cole, Oklahoma, Wednesday night. The McClain County Sheriff’s Office confirmed at least two deaths and said there were multiple injuries.

Overall, there were at least 15 reported tornadoes across three states: Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa. In addition, huge hail — some the size of a softball — was reported from Illinois to Texas.

Cole was “hit significantly,” Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper Eric Foster said. There are “power lines down everywhere” and major damage to infrastructure, according to Foster, who said hundreds of first responders are on the scene.

On Wednesday night, the McClain County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook that it was responding to “reported injuries & persons entrapped within their shelters,” and that power lines were down and there were outages. McClain County is just south of Oklahoma City.

Due to storm damage, Oklahoma State Highway 74 to State Highway 76 was closed, according to the McClain County Sheriff’s Office.

Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee reported there was significant damage to its campus, but reported there were no injuries. Students living in three on-campus building were relocated on Wednesday night, according to a tweet.

The university also canceled classes on Thursday and Friday.

The cross country storm is moving east and is producing severe weather outbreak with tornadoes, huge hail and extreme straight line winds. On Thursday, severe weather will stretch east from Texas to Illinois, including major cities such as San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, St. Louis and Little Rock, Arkansas. The biggest threat will be damaging winds and huge hail.

Severe weather will move into the Southeast over the weekend and will stretch from the Carolinas down to Georgia. Cities in the bull’s-eye will be Savannah, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina; Wilmington, North Carolina; and near Raleigh, North Carolina. Damaging winds will be the biggest threat Saturday.

The same storm will bring a threat of heavy rain and thunderstorms all the way to Washington D.C., Philadelphia and New York City Saturday evening.

Major flooding ongoing in the upper Mississippi river in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin is expected to get worse this weekend. The river is expected to continue to rise though the end of the week and into the weekend, reaching levels not seen in decades.

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