A swift-moving tornado that tore through eastern Kansas late Tuesday has left at least a dozen people injured and more than 13,000 without power.
Large amounts of debris, including toppled trees, live wires and leveled homes have left some parts of the city of Lawrence completely impassable, police said. Photos circulating on Twitter Tuesday night showed wrecked cars, soiled furniture, tattered clothes and wooden beams scattered across lawns and city streets.
As of midnight on Tuesday, there were no reported fatalities, though videos of close-calls with one twister believed to be a mile-wide flooded social media.
For residents in many areas of eastern Kansas and western Missouri, the night was one of wailing sirens and debris “falling from the sky,” as the National Weather Service repeatedly warned.
On Twitter, the agency frantically sought to keep up with multiple reports of tornadoes and ominously listed all the areas in the path of a “large and extremely dangerous tornado” that at one point was heading straight for Kansas City. In many areas, residents were told exactly how many minutes they’d have to take shelter.
“If you live in LINWOOD, KS TAKE SHELTER NOW! The tornado will be there within the next 5 minutes!” the NWS tweeted.
Linwood Mayor Brian Christenson later told CNN dozens of homes outside of Lawrence were “all gone.”
Authorities were still working to survey the damage on Tuesday night, and Christenson said he’d seen entire roofs torn off homes in certain areas.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the reported injuries in Lawrence were caused by the twister.
“We know some have gone to Lawrence Memorial Hospital and we do know that some have been taken to other area hospitals,” Sgt. Kristen Channel told The Kansas City Star, noting that they could not say the exact number or how severe they were.
Lawrence Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Janice Early also told The Star that the medical center had received 12 patients with tornado-related injuries.
The number of tornado warnings rocketed in the last 24 hours, including in the Dayton, Ohio area where a deadly twister killed one man. The Lawrence storm is also one of more than a dozen reports of tornadoes Tuesday evening in what could be a record-breaking streak.
More than 500 reports of tornadoes were received by the National Weather Service in the last 30 days, according to The Weather Channel, making it the longest, most active period for tornadoes in the U.S. in eight years. The service also reportedly ordered local TV stations in Kansas City to use “the strongest language you can” to warn residents of the incoming tornado late Tuesday.
The East Coast was also pummeled by storms late Tuesday, with the NWS confirming a twister in eastern Pennsylvania and issuing a tornado warning for northern New Jersey and parts of New York City.