Severe Storms Threaten Midwest and Plains After a Night of Tornado Reports

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Severe weather, including high winds and very large hail, was expected to pummel the Southern Plains and Midwest on Friday, a day after tornadoes were reported across five states, forecasters said.

Trained spotters collected at least 17 reports of tornadoes or tornado damage in Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska and Oklahoma before dawn on Friday, the National Weather Service said. Multiple reports can be submitted for the same tornado.

There were no immediate reports of deaths from the tornadoes, and the scale of the damage was not immediately clear.

At least three tornadoes touched down in communities south of Oklahoma City, which was at risk again on Friday. However, forecasters said the tornado threat was more pronounced farther north, in parts of the Midwest, especially along the Iowa-Nebraska border. Forecasters believe these storms, which could include damaging winds and very large hail, will develop in the afternoon into the early evening.

On Thursday in Oklahoma, tornadoes were confirmed to have touched down in north Noble, Cole and Rush Springs between 7:45 p.m. and about 9:15 p.m. Central time, the Weather Service said. No injuries or deaths were immediately reported.

In Noble, a town of about 7,000 people, Scott Chronister, the manager of Noble Hardware on North Main Street, arrived at the store early to clear debris from the parking lot, anticipating more customers than usual after the storm.

“I figured it will be a busy day,” he said in an interview, as customers around him looked for tarps and work gloves.

Across the street, he could see a few homes, a doughnut shop and a market had been damaged. Workers from the Oklahoma Gas & Electric Company were busy restoring power lines.

“They didn’t get completely wiped out, but they have had some roof damage,” Mr. Chronister said.

In and around Cole, a town about 10 miles west of Noble, homes and other structures had moderate to heavy damage, the McClain County Sheriff’s Office said.

About half a dozen homes had moderate to severe damage in Cole, nearby Goldsby, and the communities that surround them, in mostly rural areas with farmhouses or homesteads that have been passed down for generations, Deputy Scott Gibbons said.

“We were fortunate that it hit in a mostly unpopulated area,” he said early Friday. A lot of the houses have storm shelters, he said. There were no reports of casualties.

In April, three people were killed in or near Cole when a storm system spawned several tornadoes. The storm displaced residents, damaged homes and left thousands without power.

Scientists are not yet able to determine whether there is a link between climate change and the frequency or strength of tornadoes. But they do say that tornadoes seem to be occurring in greater clusters in recent years and that the region of the United States where most tornadoes occur, an area of the Great Plains known as Tornado Alley, appears to be shifting eastward.

Christine Hauser contributed reporting.

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