A “large and extremely dangerous” tornado ripped through the community of Cole in Oklahoma on Wednesday, tearing apart homes and leaving a trail of devastation in its path.
The National Weather Service issued multiple warnings after the twister was triggered by numerous severe storms moving across the state. Large hail, reportedly as big as baseballs, along with damaging winds, were also reported.
“A HP (high precipitation) cluster of storms across central Oklahoma has become messy, but continues to cycle, producing several tornadoes, some which may be strong to intense,” the National Weather Service warned Wednesday night.
“The messy nature of the supercells has led to deviant tornado motions which will likely continue until the demise of the cluster.”
A helicopter pilot flying for a local news station barely made it home after his windshield was damaged by the storm’s large hail, harrowing video showed Wednesday.
“We are beat the hell up,” pilot Jim Gardner, who was covering the tornado for KWTV, can be heard saying.
“I ain’t out of the damn helicopter yet,” he says. “Goddamn it.”
Residents in the path of the storm were urged to take shelter immediately, with pictures posted on social media showing some residences completely flattened. The number of houses damaged is currently unclear, along with the number of injuries or deaths.
“It looks like this is widespread, it’s not one house here, one house here,” KFOR chopper pilot Mason Dunn says, hovering over the south side of Cole. “It looks like the damage path is going to be a long ways.”
KOCO reports McClain County has no confirmed injuries at this time, though there were an unidentified number of people trapped in shelters. People have been advised to steer clear of the area to allow first responders access.
“This doesn’t even seem real,” Professional Storm Chaser Zachary Hall tweeted alongside video of a supercell near Slaughterville, Oklahoma.
In Etowah, approximately 35 miles from Cole, debris from the tornado was being launched hundreds of yards away, with reports of a “debris ball” causing further damage.
“Debris is being lofted high into the sky, showing up as jagged shapes on radar,” MyRadar Weather said.
Areas in six states were on tornado watches Wednesday night, including western Iowa, southeastern Nebraska, northeastern Kansas and northwestern Missouri, according to the Storm Prediction Center.