Tornadoes Hit Dayton Area; More Storms Expected Farther South

(Reuters) -
This image provided and posted by the Ohio Department of Transportation, early Tuesday, shows a view from one of the department’s trucks as crews on Interstate 75 north of Dayton, Ohio, work to clean debris from the highway after a suspected tornado hit the area late Monday. (Ohio Department of Transportation via AP)

A tornado slammed into the city of Dayton, Ohio, on Monday and severe storms were forecast to pound the area overnight, officials and media reports said.

At least two other tornadoes touched down near the city, including one near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, just east of Dayton, media reports said.

The latest storm comes after tornadoes and floods killed at least six people in Oklahoma over the weekend, including two people in El Reno, near the state capital, on Saturday.

The extent of injuries and damage in Ohio wasn’t clear yet.

“We’re right in the middle of it right now. It’s a mess,” said a phone operator with the Office of Emergency Management in Montgomery County.

Another Emergency Management official said that they were working with the American Red Cross early on Tuesday to set up at least four shelters in the area for any displaced residents.

Some media outlets reported that rescue workers were going door-to-door in parts of Dayton. Police and sheriff’s departments were not immediately available for comment.

Twitter users posted images of debris flying in the air and damaged mobile homes and cars.

Media images online showed snowplows from the Ohio Department of Transportation clearing debris from Interstate 75 just north of the city.

More than 75,000 homes and businesses were without power early on Tuesday, according to the tracking site PowerOutage.US.

The National Weather Service said multiple tornadoes were reported in the Dayton area between 11 p.m. Monday and 1 a.m. Tuesday.

“We’ll have to get survey crews on the ground in the morning to confirm the severity of the storms, but yes, there is at least one tornado touch-down in the city,” said Zack Taylor, a meteorologist with the NWS Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

“The storm system is weakening as it pushes into West Virginia and Virginia, but along with the winds, it has dropped about two or three inches of rain in just two hours,” he said.

Flooded areas of Arkansas and Oklahoma were bracing for more rain that will feed the already swollen Arkansas River, forecasters said on Monday. Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri have all activated National Guard units to respond to the storms.

Millions of Americans were under flood warnings on the Memorial Day holiday. Deluges hit Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois.

In Tulsa, officials were monitoring the Arkansas River after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers raised the flow at the upriver Keystone Dam by 65% since last week to 275,000 cubic feet per second. The heavier flow is testing two aging levees in Tulsa, the city said.

In Missouri, tornadoes and severe storms killed three people and destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes last week.