A storm system barreling eastwards is putting 17 million people in the central United States under the threat for bad weather, after a truck driver was killed in Oklahoma when his vehicle was pushed off an interstate in high winds.
The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, said an area stretching from Louisiana to central Missouri, including all of Arkansas, could see very large hail, strong tornadoes and powerful winds Wednesday. Earlier in the day, forecasters issued tornado warnings in Houston, though no substantial damage was reported.
Roofs and walls were ripped away early Wednesday from homes in Rockwall, northeast of Dallas, and the city’s mayor, Jim Pruitt, told FOX 4 Dallas one person suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
“You can see with the damage that you have behind me here how substantial that is with someone waking up at 3:30 a.m. and that kind of thing only to have one person injured,” Pruitt told FOX 4.
Forecasters said the storms could intensify Thursday as the system moves past the Mississippi River. The severe-weather risk Thursday is moderate — the second-highest classification from the Storm Prediction Center. Forecasters said they expect “an active severe weather event” Thursday in an area stretching from New Orleans to Cincinnati.
Forecasters say the biggest risk Thursday for severe storms is in northern Mississippi and western Tennessee
In Oklahoma, a truck driver was killed Tuesday night after strong winds pushed his rig off the interstate in El Reno, outside Oklahoma City, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. The driver was partially ejected through the driver-side window and pinned for approximately one hour, FOX 25 reported. Forecasters confirmed a 95 mph wind gust in the area when the crash occurred.
In West Texas, the three storm chasers — including two who were contractors for The Weather Channel — were killed Tuesday in a collision at a remote intersection near the town of Spur, about 55 miles southeast of Lubbock.
The channel said in a statement that Kelley Williamson and Randy Yarnall were “beloved members of the weather community” who had worked as contractors for the channel. The Texas Department of Public Safety said the two died Tuesday along with another storm chaser, 25-year-old Corbin Lee Jaeger of Peoria, Arizona.
Williamson and Yarnall were both from Cassville, Missouri.
Department of Public Safety Sgt. John Gonzalez told the Associated Press a Chevrolet Suburban driven by Williamson ran a stop sign and slammed into a Jeep driven by Jaeger. Yarnall was a passenger in the Suburban. All three were killed instantly. Tornadoes had been reported nearby at the time of the crash and heavy rain had been reported in the area.
The Associated Press contributed to this report