At Least 19 Tornadoes Hit 3 States

Abby Ohlheiser

A pack of severe storms barreled through Oklahoma, Kansas, and Iowa on Sunday, bringing tornado touchdowns in all three states. The emerging photos are terrifying and devastating.

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Here's the National Weather Service's blunt warning about the storms in Kansas:

"You could be killed if not underground or in a tornado shelter. Complete destruction of neighborhoods, businesses and vehicles will occur. Flying debris will be deadly to people and animals." 

While the language reads as unusually direct, the agency has actually been stepping up the drama of their alerts lately, in order to make sure people pay attention to approaching weather that could be deadly. It might have worked. While it's still too early to tell the extent of the casualties from the storms, there's been just one report of a fatality.

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Some of the worst damage seems to be the result of two tornados that hit just northwest of Shawnee, OK:

WX UPDATE:Large tornado on the NW side of Shawnee.Take your precautions now.Viewer submitted this photo.…

— News 9 (@NEWS9) May 19, 2013

NEW PHOTO: Intense rotation described with tornado on the ground near Shawnee, OK; people told to take cover - @kfor…

— NewsBreaker (@NewsBreaker) May 19, 2013

It looks like it pretty much completely destroyed a trailer park:

PHOTO: Trailer park near Shawnee, Oklahoma completely obliterated - @kfor:… -…

— Micah Grimes (@MicahGrimes) May 20, 2013

More damage, in Wellston: 

RT @bbcnewsus: Tornado sweeping across US state of Oklahoma flattens houses in Wellston…

— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) May 20, 2013

Here's footage from a tornado in Carney, OK. It gets kind of stunningly huge at about 3:20: 

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And another large touch down in Wichita, Kansas: 

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And in Iowa, at least one confirmed touch down broke the state's record 359-day streak without a tornado. At least 19 (and counting) tornados have touched down in the three states so far on Sunday, according to Reuters