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Tornadoes Rip Across Midwest, Mid-Miss. Valley Friday Night
December 11, 2021
UPDATED By WeatherBug Meteorologists
A massive and historic tornado outbreak tore across the Mid-Mississippi Valley Friday night, unleashing destruction rarely seen in December, let alone at all. The damage and death toll are still being accounted for in the wake of the storms, but fatalities will likely exceed fifty, with scores more injured.
The tornado outbreak was the result of a strong cold front that is making its way toward the Appalachians and Eastern Seaboard today, with the mixing of warm and humid Gulf air and cold, dry Canadian air causing a perilous situation that led to twisters from Texas to Indiana.
According to local media, a candle-making factory in Mayfield, Ky., was among those hit by a tornado, with about 110 people inside. The governor of Kentucky believes that could be responsible for as many as 70 to 100 deaths. Similarly, an Amazon warehouse was severely damaged in Edwardsville, Ill., with at least two dead and dozens of people rescued.
The worst of the damage appears to be along a path extending as many as 250 miles from northeastern Arkansas across the Missouri Bootheel and into western Tennessee and western Kentucky. Additional tornadoes wreaked havoc across central Arkansas, western and central Tennessee, northeastern Texas, much of Missouri, southern Illinois and southern Indiana. As of 4:30 p.m. CST (5:30 p.m. EST) on Saturday, nearly 185,000 people from Arkansas to Missouri and Kentucky are without electricity.
By the numbers, this outbreak was truly historic. National Weather Service meteorologists need to complete storm surveys on the damage, but images from the area appear to show tornado damage at the top-of-the-scale EF-5 level. This level is typically associated with near to complete destruction where the storm hits. If the damage was rated at this level it would be the first storm to reach this level since 2013. If the damage were the result of a single tornado, it would be the longest damage track on record – breaking the record of 219 miles during the 1925 “Tri-State Tornado,” also the deadliest on record.
While not unheard of in December, tornado outbreaks of this magnitude are without precedent. This will likely go down as the single-deadliest tornado outbreak during the year’s final month, with damage estimates that will reach well into the billions of dollars.
This situation is expected to be rapidly changing throughout the day, and WeatherBug meteorologists will update with the latest information as it is received.
Story Image: A feed store damaged by a tornado is seen in Mayfield, Ky., on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021. Tornadoes and severe weather caused catastrophic damage across multiple states late Friday, killing several people overnight. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)