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Three young girls among five people killed by twisters

More than 100 tornadoes touched down across the Midwest over the weekend, flipping cars and stripping houses. NBC's Jay Gray reports.

Updated at 6:38 p.m. ET: A long and wide swath of the central U.S. is in a severe storm danger zone on Sunday, following twisters that killed at least five people and caused damage across the Midwest on Saturday.

By early Sunday afternoon, at least two tornadoes reportedly briefly touched down in Nebraska. One caused damage to two buildings in Wheeler County. Oklahoma and Minnesota also each saw one suspected twister, though no damage was reported.

The areas "most likely" to see tornadoes on Sunday afternoon and evening, the National Weather Service said, are parts of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.


"Severe storms are also possible in a band from Illinois and Missouri southward into Arkansas, northwest Louisiana and east Texas," the service added.

Weather.com severe weather expert Greg Forbes assigned a 70 percent chance for tornadoes in parts of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin on Sunday.

Saturday saw 122 reports of tornadoes in the central plains, the Storm Prediction Center noted. Not all have been confirmed, and some might be the same twister reported in a nearby area, but the number of reports is unusually high.

Below's a look at the deaths, injuries and damage by state.

Oklahoma: In Woodward, a town of 12,000, five people were killed and 29 injured, five critically. Some 8,000 were without power, while 89 homes and 13 businesses were destroyed.

Lightning had apparently disabled the signal tower for the town's tornado sirens, Reuters cited Mayor Roscoe Hill as saying.

Two young sisters and an adult died at a mobile home park, while an adult and another young girl were killed just outside the city limits. [Earlier versions of this story reported that three young sisters were killed in the mobile home park].

"This thing took us by surprise," Hill said. "It's kind of overwhelming."

"On the west part of town it looks pretty bad," he added. "We still have search and rescue people out. We have people who are still missing."

One survivor emerged from a twisted SUV that had been tossed along the side of a road.

"The guy had blood coming down his face," the Associated Press quoted Marty Logan as saying.

Logan also saw people walking down the street covered in blood when he went to a hard-hit neighborhood. "It was scary, because I knew it was after midnight and a lot of people were in bed."

Sue Ogrocki / AP

Bill Stanley holds his granddaughter as he looks at his tornado-damaged home in Woodward, Okla., on Sunday. Both were in the home when the tornado struck.

In April 1947, Woodward was hit by a tornado that still ranks as the deadliest in Oklahoma history, with 116 people killed, according to the National Weather Service.

Tornado hits Norman, Okla.

Kansas: A twister churned through parts of Wichita, where Brandon Redmond, a meteorologist with the Severe Weather Alert Team, said it passed over his vehicle and lifted it two feet off the ground.

"The tornado literally formed over our vehicle," he told Reuters. "I've never been that scared in my life. ... We had power flashes all around us and debris circulating all around the vehicle, sheet metal, parts of a roof, plywood."

No injuries were reported but damage includes the McConnell Air Force Base, a Boeing plant, other industrial properties and a mobile home park.

"I didn't think it was that bad until I walked down my street and everything is gone," the Associated Press quoted Yvonne Tucker as saying from her destroyed mobile home park. "I don't know what to do. I don't know where to go. I've seen it on TV, but when it happens to you it is unreal.

"I just feel lost."

Tornadoes also raced through north-central Kansas. Five homes in rural Saline County were damaged, but the tornado avoided towns and no one was hurt.

Gov. Sam Brownback on Sunday declared a state of disaster emergency. Some 11,000 people were without power, most in Wichita.

Kansas saw 97 tornado reports and about 40 percent of the state was under a tornado warning at one time or another on Saturday, Brownback noted.

Iowa:A hospital in Creston was damaged and two people were injured by a suspected twister. Patients were moved to nearby hospitals and most of the town of 7,500 people lost power.

In Thurman, a town of 250, homes were missing walls and roofs, while sidewalks and streets were covered with toppled trees.

An estimated 75 to 90 percent of the town's buildings and homes were damaged or destroyed, and yet only minor injuries were reported.

A small Iowa town was destroyed by weekend storms; Boston marathon runners look forward to 91-degree running weather. The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore reports.

Nebraska: An apparent tornado near Oxford took a roof off a farm house and toppled a grain bin but no injuries or other serious damage in the area were reported.

Tornadoes briefly touched down earlier in Nebraska's Nuckolls County and Thayer County.

Areas in the state also saw baseball-sized hail.

The U.S. tornado season started early this year, with twisters already blamed for 62 deaths in 2012 in the Midwest and South, raising concerns that this year would be a repeat of 2011, the deadliest tornado year in nearly a century.

Some 550 people died in tornadoes last year, including 316 killed in an April outbreak in five Southern states, and 161 people in Joplin, Missouri, the following month.

The Storm Prediction Center, part of the National Weather Service, had warned of Saturday's developing system.

Nati Harnik / AP

A Red Cross worker surveys damage to a playground in Thurman, Iowa, on Sunday.

Director Russ Schneider said it was just the second time in U.S. history that the center issued a high-risk warning more than 24 hours in advance. The first was in April 2006, when nearly 100 tornadoes tore across the Southeast, killing a dozen people and damaging more than 1,000 homes in Tennessee.

Earlier warnings are now possible because storm modeling and technology have improved, said Chris Vaccaro, a spokesman for the National Weather Service. In the past, people often have had only minutes of warning when a siren went off.

The National Weather Service also announced last month that it would start using terms like "mass devastation," "unsurvivable" and "catastrophic" in tornado warnings in an effort to get more people to take heed.

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