Catastrophic EF-4 Tornado Devastates Barnsdall, Oklahoma, Leaving One Dead and Another Missing

One person has died and another is missing after a devastating tornado destroyed homes and toppled power lines as it ripped through Barnsdall, a small town northeast of Oklahoma City, on Monday evening. The National Weather Service reported that Barnsdall, a town of about 1,000 people located a 40-minute drive north of Tulsa, was leveled shortly after 9:30 p.m. A storm survey team found damage Tuesday that is consistent with at least an EF-4 strength tornado on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. It was the second tornado to hit the town in five weeks.

Tornado Causes Fatality and Injuries in Barnsdall

Barnsdall Mayor Johnny Kelley said the tornado caused one fatality and up to eight injuries in the town. The Tulsa Fire Department is conducting a daylight search for one, possibly two, missing persons. Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt will travel to Barnsdall on Tuesday afternoon as he directs resources to aid recovery.

According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, as many as 40 homes were damaged in the Barnsdall area. Multiple reports of natural gas leaks and debris in roadways led to the closure of numerous roads. The Barnsdall Nursing Home took a direct hit from the tornado on the southwestern side of town, but all residents were accounted for with no injuries.

Joy King, a resident of Barnsdall, said the tornado hit all of a sudden. She felt pressure in her ears, which intensified into a loud noise, and the storm cellar door she was hiding in blew open, with debris flying everywhere. King huddled in a corner with her little dog for about 30 minutes, considering leaving but remaining in place due to another incoming cell.

Extensive Damage in Bartlesville, No Fatalities Reported

In Bartlesville, the tornado left several streets closed Tuesday due to downed power lines and fallen trees. The storm caused significant structural damage to buildings, utilities and trees, especially in southwest Bartlesville near the Circle Mountain area and northeast sections along U.S. 75 and Tuxedo, impacting homes and businesses.

Despite the extensive damage, no fatalities or serious injuries have been reported in Bartlesville. Emergency response teams, including police, fire, and street departments, were deployed after the storm struck. Several rescues, including guests trapped at the Hampton Inn on N U.S. 75, were successfully conducted by the combined efforts of Bartlesville, Dewey, and Copan fire departments.

City Manager Mike Bailey and Washington County Emergency Management Director Kary Cox stated that the storm caused significant structural damage to buildings, utilities, and trees in Bartlesville. The affected areas include the Circle Mountain area in the southwest and sections along U.S. 75 and Tuxedo in the northeast, impacting both homes and businesses.

Mayor Attributes Low Fatality Count to Community's Weather Awareness

Kelley believes the fatality count was low thanks to his community staying “weather aware,” as the day was predicted to see numerous severe storms and a potential tornado outbreak. He said when the sirens were blowing and the warnings were given out over cellphones and TVs, people took cover and did what they needed to do to keep safe.

A portion of central and northern Oklahoma was given the rare “high” risk categorization for severe storms and multiple strong tornadoes by the weather service’s Storm Prediction Center. So far, the number of tornadoes is much lower than the outbreak of April 27 when 30 tornadoes were confirmed in Oklahoma.

During that outbreak, the office of the chief medical examiner reported four storm-related fatalities: two in Holdenville while in a mobile home, one on Interstate 35 near Marietta while in a vehicle, and one fatality in Sulphur in a business.

Severe Weather Threat Continues Across Multiple States

Tornadoes were also spotted after dark Tuesday in parts of Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio, while portions of Illinois, Kentucky, and Missouri were also under a tornado watch. In southwestern Michigan, two tornadoes blitzed the city of Portage near Kalamazoo, causing significant damage to homes and businesses, including a FedEx facility.

No serious injuries were reported in Portage. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency for Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, Branch, and Cass counties on Tuesday night after the storm brought “large hail up to four inches in diameter and at least two confirmed tornadoes,” she said in a statement.

Photos posted to social media showed major damage to a FedEx building in the Portage area. A FedEx spokesperson confirmed its facility was damaged but said there were no serious injuries. Portage Director of Public Safety Nicholas Armold told CBS News all FedEx employees were accounted for, and none had been trapped beneath the wreckage of the building.