People in two states were taking shelter amid wailing warning sirens Sunday as tornadoes were confirmed to have touched down in Kansas and Oklahoma as part of an extreme weather system plowing through the nation's midsection.
KFOR in Oklahoma reports that there is damage after an apparent tornado hit the ground near Shawnee, Oklahoma on Sunday.
The system, which stretched from North Texas to Minnesota, also heaved hail -- dime to softball sized -- as well as heavy rainfall.
Residents in downtown Wichita, Kan., were told to seek shelter Sunday afternoon after a tornado was confirmed on the ground – with its presence cloaked by thick thunder clouds and heavy rain.
Near Oklahoma City, a half-mile wide tornado was reported, prompting a stark alert from the Weather Service: "You could be killed if not underground or in a tornado shelter," the advisory said.
The National Weather Service in Wichita warned of a large and “extremely dangerous and potentially deadly” tornado late Sunday. Weather spotters confirmed the tornado 7 miles northwest of Haysville and moving northeast at 30 mph, the Weather Service said.
The tornado later passed south of the city in Sedgwick County in southern Kansas but rain and thunderstorms continued to batter the area, NBC station KSN TV in Wichita reported.
The warning, which covered downtown Wichita as well as the surrounding area that includes Haysville, was lifted in early evening, KSN reported.
Power lines were down and at least three homes were damaged near Wichita, one with its roof blown off, KSN reported. Authorities said there were no injuries to report.
Other tornadoes were confirmed near Udall and Emporia, and danger remained in many parts of south central Kansas with residents told to seek refuge in storm shelters.
At least one tornado was confirmed on the ground near Oklahoma City, NBC station KFOR reported. The Weather Service reported it was confirmed by spotters near Luther and was moving east at 30 mph. Tornado warnings were in effect for Lincoln and other northeastern Oklahoma counties.
The Lincoln County sheriff's office reported damage from three tornadoes that touched down, but the extent of the damage was not immediately known. There was no word of injuries from the storms as of Sunday evening.
The weather outlook across Middle America looks stormy with the Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., forecasting tornadoes, large hail and damaging winds over parts of the central Plains on Sunday.
Some of the largest cities in the Midwest are under alert in what could be a long night for the country's heartland, The Weather Channel's Kelly Cass reports.
Eastern Kansas, Western Missouri, Southern Nebraska, Central and Northeast Oklahoma were the areas most likely to be hit by the severe weather.
Low pressure in the Plains states will keep things "very unsettled and stormy" as the week goes on, The Weather Channel reported.
On Monday, the severe storms threat moves down to North Texas and Oklahoma, through northwest Arkansas, southeast Kansas and Missouri into parts of the Upper Mississippi Valley and Great Lakes, according to the Weather Channel. Large hail and damaging winds are also possible.
By Tuesday the large system is expected to be moving slowly to the East, from eastern Texas to the southern Great Lakes.
The storms are being generated by a dip in the jet stream combined with moisture moving north from the Gulf of Mexico, Kim Cunningham of The Weather Channel reported on NBC Nightly News.
The danger follows a series of tornadoes that struck northern Texas on Wednesday night, leaving six people dead and dozens injured. One of the twisters was preliminarily classified EF-4 by the National Weather Service, meaning it could have had winds up to 200 miles per hour.
Overall, tornadic activity has been slow this May, typically a bad month for twisters, said the Weather Channel’s Tom Moore.