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Kentucky Hit Hardest By Deadly Tornado That Tore Through 5 States

Kentucky Hit Hardest By Deadly Tornado That Tore Through 5 States

President Joe Biden approved an emergency disaster declaration for Kentucky on Saturday after a monstrous tornado ripped through the middle of the U.S. in a stormfront that killed dozens and tore apart a candle factory, crushed a nursing home, derailed a train, and smashed an Amazon warehouse.

Workers at a National Weather Service office had to take shelter as a tornado passed near their office in Weldon Spring, Missouri, about 30 miles west of St. Louis. One person died and two others were injured in building collapses near the towns of Defiance and New Melle, both just a few miles from the weather service office, as the tornado carved a track that could rival the longest on record.

Debris from destroyed buildings and shredded trees covered the ground in Mayfield, a city of about 10,000 in western Kentucky. Twisted metal sheeting, downed power lines, and wrecked vehicles lined the streets. Rescue efforts were complicated because Mayfield’s main fire station and emergency services hub was also hit by the tornado. The tornado killed 22 people in Kentucky alone, while Governor Andy Beshears watched as crews sifted through the wreckage of the candle factory in Mayfield, where 110 people were working overnight Friday when the storm hit. Only forty of them were rescued.


The death toll reached 30 across five states includes four people in Tennessee; two in Arkansas, where a nursing home was destroyed; and one in both Missouri and Illinois, where the Amazon facility was hit.

The powerful twister “will likely go down perhaps as one of the longest track violent tornadoes in United States history,” Victor Genzini, a researcher on extreme weather at Northern Illinois University, told the Associated Press. The longest tornado on record, in March 1925, tracked for about 220 miles through Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. But Genzini said this twister may have had touched down for nearly 250 miles. This storm was all the more remarkable because it came in December, when normally colder weather limits tornadoes, he said.

Meteorologists haven’t determined whether the storm spawned a single tornado or multiple tornadoes.

[This is a developing story, please check back for updates]

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