Deadly Wisconsin tornado rated a strong EF2


ELK CITY, Okla. (AP) Updates on Wednesday, May 17, about deadly storms in the central U.S. (all times Central Daylight Time).

  • 4:30 p.m.

National Weather Service meteorologists said the preliminary damage rating for a tornado that destroyed a trailer park and killed a man in northwestern Wisconsin was a strong EF2.

The enhanced F-scale runs from EF0 to EF5. An EF2 or higher is considered a significant tornado.

The weather service said the twister packed winds of 120 to 130 mph, or even slightly stronger, when it hit the park near Chetek on Tuesday evening.

The length of its path was still being determined.

The weather service said it received reports of more than two dozen tornado sightings Tuesday night across five states: Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.

  • 4:00 p.m.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said there was devastating damage to one of her state’s western communities struck by a tornado that killed a man.

Fallin toured Elk City as families sorted through the remains of their homes. The governor was joined by state and local officials, and emergency responders.

Fallin told reporters it’s never easy seeing people who have lost their homes.

National Weather Service meteorologists said preliminary indications showed eight tornadoes touched down in western Oklahoma on Tuesday. Bo Mikles, 53, was killed apparently as he was fleeing his home when his vehicle was thrown several hundred feet.

Authorities said at least 40 homes were destroyed.

  • 2:30 p.m.

A man who lost his home when a deadly tornado destroyed a trailer park in northwestern Wisconsin said he helped search for survivors afterward.

Dale Daily said he heard the warning siren sound about a half-hour before the tornado hit Prairie Lake Estate Mobile Park near Chetek. He said he and his wife drove away to safety and returned just after the twister left the area to find the park in ruins.

Daily said he walked among the debris and helped free a man who was buried under a refrigerator. He said the man had bad head trauma and that he tried to keep him from going to sleep.

  • 12:30 p.m.

One of the tornadoes that touched down during storms that barreled through a large swath of the central U.S. destroyed about 20 homes in central Kansas.

Barton County spokeswoman Donna Zimmerman said the tornado that formed near Pawnee Rock remained on the ground for up to 15 miles (24 kilometers) before dissipating west of Hoisington. She said initial reports were that it was more than 400 feet (120 meters) wide.

Zimmerman said one person suffered minor injuries and the tiny community of Pawnee Rock was “very fortunate” the twister struck a largely rural area.

  • 11:30 a.m.

Authorities released the name of a man who was killed when a tornado tore through a mobile home park in northwestern Wisconsin.

Barron County sheriff’s department officials said Eric Gavin, 46, was killed by the tornado that destroyed the Prairie Lake Estates Mobile Home Park near Chetek.

It destroyed 50 to 60 trailer homes and injured 25 people, 17 of whom were taken to hospitals.

  • 10:50 a.m.

Gov. Scott Walker planned to tour the storm devastation in northwestern Wisconsin where a tornado leveled a mobile home park, killing one person and injuring at least two dozen others.

Walker was to survey what’s left of the Prairie Lakes Estates Mobile Home Park near Chetek. Officials said residents of the park would be allowed to enter the site to look for their belongings around noon.

Barron County Sheriff Christopher Fitzgerald praised the efforts of first responders. He said in some cases, the responders left their own storm-damaged homes to help search the mobile home park. Fitzgerald said they lifted walls off people who were trapped.

  • 10:10 a.m.

More severe weather was expected in parts of the Midwest a day after tornadoes killed two people and destroyed dozens of homes in Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

National Weather Meteorologist Tom Hultquist said a low-pressure system moving from Nebraska was expected to carry strong thunderstorms into southeastern Minnesota and western portions of central and southern Wisconsin.

Hultquist said the storms had the potential to produce hail and tornadoes from late afternoon into the evening.

In northern Wisconsin, state emergency management officials were concerned about flooding in Ashland, Trempealeau, Clark, and Jackson counties.

  • 8:30 a.m.

Authorities said at least one person was hurt when a tornado touched down in central Kansas.

The National Weather Service said the storm started in the panhandle of Oklahoma and tracked into Kansas. One confirmed tornado was reported near a small town southeast of Dodge City, although there were no immediate reports of damage. The storm then headed toward the small central Kansas town of Pawnee Rock, where a home was destroyed.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Mike Umscheid said radar images suggested the storm might have produced other brief, rain-wrapped tornadoes as it moved over rural farmland.

Assessment crews were headed out to determine the extent of the damage.

  • 8:30 a.m.

A Red Cross official said dozens of people who lost their homes when a tornado leveled a trailer park in northwestern Wisconsin were staying with relatives or friends while others were using donated hotel rooms and a temporary shelter.

Red Cross spokesman Luong Huynh said 30 to 50 people came through a reception center at Mosaic Telecom in Cameron after the destructive tornado hit nearby.

The severe weather caused extensive damage to several turkey barns across from the mobile home park. Mayor Jeff Martin in nearby Chetek said turkeys can be seen wandering in the damage.

  • 7:30 a.m.

National Weather Service meteorologist Rick Smith said two supercells began in the Texas Panhandle then moved into Oklahoma.

Smith said it appeared the most damaging tornado was on the ground for five to 10 miles (eight to 16 kilometers) in the area of Elk City, Oklahoma.

He said hail larger than softballs also fell.