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Twister Terror: Plains States Take Cover and Brace for More Powerful Storms

On Friday, 16 million people are expected to be at risk, with the greatest danger again concentrated in Texas and Oklahoma.
/ Source: NBC News

Tens of millions of people in the middle of the country are facing a three-day tornado threat — including places that were ravaged earlier this week by an outbreak of twisters.

A tornado touched down near Throckmorton, Texas, the National Weather Service said, but there were no reports of serious damage. Tornadoes were also seen touching down in Haskell and Wilbarger counties, also in Texas, on Friday, the NWS said.

Thunderstorms, carrying large hail, broke out across the Southern Plains Friday, and a tornado watch was posted for parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and New Mexico Friday night.

The threat extends through Sunday — Mother's Day — and includes a busy weekend of commencement ceremonies. The University of Oklahoma already canceled graduation activities scheduled for Friday night due to “dangerous weather conditions.”

Torrential rain across the state was causing floods, which were leading to car accidents, according to NBC affiliate KFOR. And more than 2,500 customers were without power Friday night, according to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. Twelve counties across Oklahoma remained under a state of emergency, which was declared Thursday due to the tumultuous weather.

On Friday, the greatest tornado danger was for a zone roughly bounded by the Texas cities of Lubbock, Abilene and Wichita Falls, forecasters said.

Besides possible long-track tornadoes — which stay on the ground longer than other twisters — the storms are expected to pack baseball-sized hail and a high risk of flash floods.

"We're going to have a pretty significant event starting probably late today over the Southern Plains," said Ken Cook, a meteorologist in the Wichita, Kansas, office of the National Weather Service.

Nick Wiltgen, a senior meteorologist for The Weather Channel, told NBC News that "the bull's-eye" for the weekend outbreak could be over the same areas damaged on Wednesday night, when dozens of twisters wrecked homes and took out power lines.

The Colorado Mountain region was expected to get up to 2 feet of snow, which paired with heavy winds, could trigger avalanches, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

South Dakota, southern Montana and parts of the Nebraska panhandle could also see snow and winds up to 40 mph on Saturday and Sunday, according to

"We're going to see storms that present the risk of a full gamut of severe weather," Todd Lindley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, told The Associated Press.

In cities and towns from Nebraska to Texas, and especially in Oklahoma and Kansas, people are still picking up after the tornado outbreak on Wednesday night.

More than four dozen twisters touched down in severe storms that killed two people and injured at least 13. A woman was killed in Oklahoma City after getting trapped in her flooded storm cellar, and a man in Cooke County, Texas, was killed when his car was swept into a creek by flood waters.



— Erin McClam, Daniella Silva and Elisha Fieldstadt