Oklahoma City, (AP) - Forecasters say it appears about 75 tornadoes touched down in four Great Plains states Saturday.
Greg Carbin, a meteorologist at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., said Monday most of the tornadoes were in Kansas, followed by Oklahoma, Iowa and Nebraska. The tornadoes hit during a 24-hour period from 7 a.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. Sunday after forecasters warned of a "high risk" of severe weather.
At least six deaths were blamed on a storm that went through the northwest Oklahoma town of Woodward and destroyed more than 100 homes and businesses. Dozens of people were injured.
Many tornadoes hit in unpopulated rural areas in Kansas and Oklahoma, and Carbin says researchers are still collecting data.
Initial observations from spotters produced an estimate of more than 100 twisters.
Kansas hit by more than month's worth of tornadoes
WICHITA, (AP) — The massive storm system that plowed through Kansas this weekend damaged businesses, uprooted trees, caused power outages and upended about 100 homes in a Wichita mobile home park. But no serious injuries or fatalities were reported, which one authority called "pretty much a miracle."
The National Weather Service said the system spawned at least a "month's worth" of tornadoes in Kansas, about as many as the state would normally see in April.
Damage survey teams from the National Weather Service spent time Sunday in areas hit hardest by the storms that swept through Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Iowa all day Saturday and early Sunday. They were trying to determine how many tornadoes the storm spawned, said Mike Hudson, a weather service meteorologist in Kansas City.
"We knew well ahead of time that this was going to be ugly," Sedgwick County Commissioner Tim Norton said. "People listened. They sheltered in place, and we are very fortunate it didn't go through some major residential areas and that there wasn't any loss of life."
The Wichita television stations all pre-empted regular programming all Saturday night to track the multiple tornadoes across the state. The stations showed live streaming videos from storm chasers showing tornadoes hitting other parts of the state. So when the frightened spotters started talking live to the stations about the monster tornado heading straight to the state's most populous city, people listened.
By Sunday morning, large swaths of Wichita were closed to all but residents as authorities began clearing downed trees and power lines. Authorities urged residents to be patient. Preliminary damage estimates in Wichita could be as high as $283 million.
A reported tornado also damaged McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita. Earlier Saturday, officials had relocated 16 KC-135 Stratotankers to Grand Forks Air Force Base as a precaution.
Storm damage was reported at the nearby Kansas Aviation Museum, including its B47 display. Six buildings at Spirit AeroSystems were significantly damaged and four others had major damage. Both the Hawker-Beechcraft plant and a Wichita elementary school sustained roof damage.
The most recent 20-year average for the number of April tornadoes in Kansas stands at 12.