Severe weather, tornadoes take aim at Southern Plains; Oklahoma City faces “high risk”

(CBS News) — Severe storms with tornadoes and heavy rains are taking aim today at the Southern Plains, mainly parts of Oklahoma and Texas, where five and half million people are likely to be affected. The latest threat follows a weekend of storms that spawned numerous tornadoes from Texas to Nebraska.

The National Weather Service says Oklahoma City is at “high risk” of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms Monday, and school districts in the Oklahoma City area canceled classes for more than 150,000 children Monday as a precaution. CBS News correspondent David Begnaud reports school is also canceled in Moore, Oklahoma, where a deadly tornado in 2013 killed 24 people, including seven children at an elementary school.

According to CBS News weather producer David Parkinson, the severe weather index in Oklahoma City is 5/5 — the first 5/5 index anywhere in the U.S. in just over two years, and the first in Oklahoma City in eight years. The Oklahoma City metro area is facing six to 10 inches of rain and there is a high risk of a tornado outbreak, with a powerful EF-4 or EF-5 tornado considered likely. A flood watch is in effect for the greater Oklahoma City region, while strong winds and hail are forecast for West Texas.

The National Weather Service says the storm system will move later Monday into western Arkansas. The threat of severe weather will continue into Tuesday.

Forecasters say four tornadoes struck parts of West Texas this weekend, damaging some homes and businesses. The National Weather Service on Sunday reported two tornadoes hit parts of San Angelo a day earlier, and twisters were also reported Saturday in Ballinger and Abilene.

Meteorologist Terry Huber in San Angelo said Sunday that officials had no reports of anyone hurt in twisters from the same storm system. Huber estimated winds topping 111 mph hit San Angelo, damaging homes and businesses and downing power lines.

Furthermore, according to a climate map produced by the National Weather Service, as of Monday morning most of Oklahoma and Kansas are under a flood watch due to heavy rains, while most of Texas is under a wind advisory, which means sustained winds of 30 mph or higher or wind gusts exceeding 40 mph. 

In Louisiana, a possible weekend tornado damaged or destroyed at least 50 homes and businesses. The Monroe News Star reports numerous trees were toppled and utility poles snapped and more than 6,500 residents in Ville Platte, a city about 75 miles northwest of Baton Rouge, were left without power. 

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