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Major Tornado Outbreak in the Plain States

Aired April 14, 2012 - 23:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon. This is the top of the hour. We're watching breaking news right here on CNN in the NEWSROOM. Our meteorologist Jacqui Jeras is here. Susan Candiotti is in Wichita, Kansas. Our Rob Marciano is in Oklahoma. And we're following the breaking weather news, tornado outbreaks in the middle part of our country.

Joining us now by phone is Susan Candiotti, she's in a hotel in Wichita, Kansas. She is seeing lightning strikes and she is also hearing about tornadoes breaking out throughout that area.

To Susan in a moment but first to our meteorologist Jacqui Jeras with new information -- Jacqui.

JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, this is a large confirmed tornado on the ground. It's near Clearwater right now and it's less than 30 minutes away from downtown Wichita. This is what we call a tornado emergency where there's a large destructive tornado confirmed on the ground moving towards a populated area. So this is as bad as it gets in terms of the threat at this hour.

And this has been a rough day. We've had more than 60 reports of tornadoes from places like Oklahoma, into Kansas, in Nebraska, and even into Iowa, where we're getting reports that there's some damage to a hospital in Creston there. So an unusual day with a lot of destruction.

Most of the storms have been pretty rural throughout the day. Now as they move into populated areas, that concern continues to be very heightened.

This is the location that we're talking about. This is what we call velocity where we can see the winds and how they move from one direction to the other, indicating rotation. So this is the area where that tornado is right now, near Clearwater, and it's heading north-northeast. So it is on a beeline on a path to Wichita. And if it stays on the ground through that entire time, that could be a real problem for those folks in Wichita. So they need to be in their safe place right now.

If we have that tower cam, I'm not sure we've been watching this. It's dark, so you're not going to be able to see this tornado when it arrives. You might get a glimpse of it when the lightning flashes, but that's going to be about it. You don't want to be in a place where you can see the tornado. You want to be in your safe place now at the lowest level of your home because this is as dangerous of a situation as it really can get.

We know this tornado at one time was at least between a quarter to a half a mile wide. So imagine something on the ground that wide and just tracking through the entire city of Wichita.

There you can see that bright pink. Boy, that just showed up real fast in there. When we see that bright pink and that bright green next to each other, that's an indication of high reflectivity as we call it. So that could be pieces of a roof, that could be pieces of shingles, buildings, trees that are getting thrown up thousands of feet into the air as we speak, as this tornado continues to track.

We also have a report of a tornado about 10 minutes ago around St. John's. So there's another cell to the north and west of here and I believe we've got three tornadoes which are on the ground at this hour. This shows you all of the reports that we've seen through the night. And this is the tornado that we've been tracking. Look at how long we have seen reports from the same parent cell as we call it, tracking more than 100 miles.

So when we tell you large, long track, long-lived tornadoes, this is exactly the situation that we're talking about. So a tornado emergency remains in effect for Wichita, including the downtown area. This storm is still to your south. The tornado part of it is to your south. You're getting rained now. The intensity of the rain is going to be picking up. You're likely going to get some hail.

Don't be fooled, because there could be a lull after the hail before the tornado arrives. So we've heard reports some people are saying they're hearing sirens in Wichita, other people are saying they're not. A lot of the reason if you're not hearing those sirens is either, well, you know, you can't hear it from your house or because they're waiting a little bit, because it still could be 20 minutes or so before that tornado arrives into the city.

But you need to be in your safe place as we speak. If you're not there, you immediately need to get there. And if you have a mobile home, if you live in a mobile home, it's one of the worst places you can possibly be. You need to get next door to your neighbors, you need to run across to grandma's house and get into her basement if she has one because your chances of surviving this are going to be much greater if you stay underground.

LEMON: Jacqui, I'm just reading the updates that are coming from the wires here. Everything you're saying. Damaging tornado, hazardous conditions, complete destruction of vehicles likely. And then you were also talking about the sirens, right, in the Wichita area.

JERAS: Right.

LEMON: And I want Susan Candiotti, we had her on the phone earlier, and she said she wasn't hearing, she hadn't heard any sirens so far. Susan, are you back? Are you hearing anything now? Susan Candiotti?


LEMON: Are you hearing sirens now? What's happening at the hotel where you are?

CANDIOTTI: Don, I'm not -- we're still not hearing sirens in the area where we are. I am standing outside this hotel where we are saying and the winds have really picked up just in the last few minutes since we last spoke. Heavy rain, lightning just brightening up the sky, making it almost look like daylight. However, if there are any funnel clouds, I think they are still far enough away we can't see them. And even when they get close, because it's dark outside, it would be very difficult to spot them.

But I can tell you this. I'm told that the sirens in this area are very focused. So that they usually only go off in an area that may be in the direct path. Nevertheless, as Jacqui points out, we appear to be in a beeline for where that storm is tracking right here and she -- right where she points out that throughout the day mainly the touchdowns that we have been hearing about have been in less populated areas.

Wichita, of course, being a big city here and this is where -- this is what is concerning the meteorologists the most, the community the most here, and people have been warned to seek shelter if they haven't already. They better have a plan to stay inside, and not go out to take a peek at this storm -- Don.

LEMON: OK. Susan, stand by. Jacqui Jeras, stand by. I want to go to our affiliate KSNW now there covering this. They're in Wichita. And Dave Freeman, if you see -- there he is. He's a meteorologist there. Jacqui Jeras knows him very well. Let's listen in for a little bit and then Jacqui and I will be back in a moment.

DAVE FREEMAN, METEOROLOGIST, KSNW: Quickly acknowledge the fact that we have another tornado that was reported up to the northwest -- or northeast. We're letting that one go. And Mark, we still have a significant storm in Rice County. Talk about that one for just a moment.

MARK BOGNER, METEOROLOGIST, KSNW: Boy, and that one makes me nervous. It looks like it could have been right in the Lyons area as we have a weather watcher that was in Lyons, seeing power flashes west of down -- as the tornado touched down. That means it was hitting power lines, it was on the ground doing damage so we're awaiting on pins and needles to hear if Lyons has taken a direct hit from this tornado as it has made its way through that are.

And Lyons, you're not out of the woods yet, this storm still making its way across the area. But that one also has been reported as a large, damaging tornado on the ground and it's been on the ground for a long time. FREEMAN: Thank you very much, Mark Bogner as we continue to tract the storms. A look at the situation across the state. And Mark just told you about the one in Rice County. That one continues now to race northeast of Lyons. Still could also be packing a punch of large hail and now here is the situation in the Wichita metro area.

And, Mark, if anything, I think this is worse looking than it was, just a couple of moments ago --

BOGNER: Yes, I agree.

FREEMAN: -- because we have a little bit more organization here on the southwest side of town, right in that area. I don't like the looks of that at all.

BOGNER: No, indeed. In fact, it's -- has taken on just a little bit better organization on the radar. It's got -- still an indication of very strong outlying, out-flowing winds right next to strong inflowing winds. And we've had -- just had a report of 70-mile-an- hour winds in Clearwater. That is likely associated with the circulation that is producing the large tornado recorded at times a half to three quarters of a mile wide.

It's now making its way on up in the southwestern part of the country, just -- right around the Hayesville area, southwest of Hayesville, right on up into south Wichita. This is the area, kind of in that corridor, including McConnell Air Force Base that this track, this tornado is trying to take. So be very, very careful with this one. It's got a bad history.

LEMON: OK. The KSNW, our affiliate in Wichita, Kansas. That's meteorologist Dave Freeman there.

Jacqui, you know Dave Freeman and you know when they're in your area that's what local news does. They cover them right from the ground there. We're working on --

JERAS: Right. Street level.

LEMON: Yes, at street level. I want to just tell our viewers that we are -- we're working on the Emergency Management person for the Wichita area, which was -- which is Sedgwick County. Hope to get the emergency manager on.

Is Susan on now?

Susan Candiotti, hearing sirens in Wichita where she's at a hotel. Talk to us, Susan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, tell me about what you're doing here.

CANDIOTTI: Hey, Don, for the first time now we are starting to hear sirens, sirens that authorities said we would be hearing and now that time has finally come. Again, the warning for people here in Wichita is that they need to get inside if they aren't already. That this is the time to try to get a picture of a storm that is heading this way. I don't know if you can hear this. Let me see if I can hold the phone out for a second.

I think it's a bit too distant now. It kind of comes and goes. But in any case, the idea now is people need to hunker down here. This is a highly populated area. This had been prom night for a lot of kids. So hopefully they are inside a venue. I understand there's a concert in town. So presumably they are hunkered down just as people in this hotel where we are staying are doing the same thing.

We've been seeing some people who live in the neighborhood even come over here to take shelter, because they said they don't have basements in their house. They don't have a storm shelter and this is the place -- a safe place for them to be. So we're expecting the arrival, I think as Jacqui was talking about, it could be in this area within a half hour's time. But I know once you hear the siren, that's it. Time to get inside.

LEMON: Yes. Good advice. Jacqui, go ahead.

JERAS: Yes, no time left whatsoever. A couple of notes, Susan mentioned the concert there. Miranda Lambert, is that the name? I believe having a concert there.


JERAS: At the civic center. They've evacuated the civic center and getting all those people to a safe place right now.

Another place that's been evacuated, the National Weather Service. You see that big hole in the middle of our radar there where our beam is coming out of?

LEMON: I see it.

JERAS: That's where the Weather Service is and that's where the radar is. And that's why you're seeing a hoe in the middle of the storm. That's not really a hole there, it's because the radar beam doesn't shoot straight up in the air. Kind of shoots up and around in a circle.

LEMON: We're going to get to a break but -- your producer just handed you a note. Do you need to --

JERAS: Just an update on the location of the tornado, which I can tell you just by looking at it, too, they're saying it's just to the northeast of Clearwater. So here's Clearwater right here. Here's Hayesville, so Hayesville getting very close in this circulation area right here. And then to put it in perspective here's Wichita. So it's still moving through that area.

Here's the National Weather Service site that's been evacuated. So this is closing in, getting close to the southern suburbs of Wichita at this time.

LEMON: OK. Jacqui, obviously we're not going anywhere. We're going to cover this until it ends. Until we make sure that everyone is safe and we see exactly what's going on. As you noticed, we were doing a completely different show when this started. So our guests are gone. We're going to continue to focus on this particular issue, which is important. It is breaking news. Look at the radar and you saw the local news coverage of it as well.

Rob Marciano is our meteorologist. He's usually here with Jacqui Jeras. There he is out in the field. Rob is -- covered this same storm system in Oklahoma earlier. We're going talk to Rob live in just moments. There he is live and we're going to see exactly what he saw earlier today and then we're going to show you where the storm system is now.

We're back -- short break, short break.


LEMON: Breaking news. We're following a fast-moving, destructive storm system in the Midwest. Our meteorologist Jacqui Jeras leading the way at this coverage.

Jacqui, what's going on?

JERAS: Yes, we're getting reports now on the southwest side of Wichita of power flashes. So that tells us that tornado is moving into the city, it's moving into the southwestern part into the suburbs, and making its way towards downtown. There you can see our radar picture. This is a tornado emergency. We know this tornado has been as much as between a quarter of a mile and half of a mile wide.

So this is an emergency where you have to be in shelter, in your safe place right now. There's been heavy rain the last 20 to 30 minutes across Wichita. The tornado itself somewhere in this area right here. If I switch this over to velocity mode, I'll have a better idea. There we go. All right. So we're talking in this area, it's getting very close to the National Weather Service.

Here is Wichita, it's south downtown area. And there you can see the storm moving through. And notice this just turn to that bright orange. So that's some of that debris and some of what we're seeing in terms of the power flashes that are moving in. So this is just outside of the National Weather Service office, which they have evacuated, by the way. That has a storm shelter in its basement.

We're also tracking storm chasers. There are literally dozens of storm chasers which have been out there tracking these storms today. These are the so-called SWAT chasers. And I just want to show this. It's very difficult to see anything out there. You are not going to see this tornado if it's moving through Wichita. So don't try and take any video of it. At times we're seeing lightning, there's been a lot of lightning associated with this storm. And every now and then we can see some power flashes on this.

So just I wanted to put that up for some streaming for you to see this is an evolving situation. And there you can see, also by the way, these storm chasers know what part of this storm to be on, to be in a safe place. And it's nice to see that there's nobody else on the road. So hopefully folks are hunkering down and taking this seriously tonight, because this could be a really sad situation coming out of Wichita tonight

. But if you can stay underground, you might come out of this one OK. And that's what we're hoping for at this time. So here's the storm right around here. It's looking close towards the beltway area perhaps, and you can see that this is a very large, very powerful cell. We could see flooding in the area as a result of this, as well. And the hail reports, you know, you don't want to take hail lightly, either. We've had softball size hail reported today in Nebraska. We've seen golf ball size hail. And that's a good potential with this storm, too.

And even if you don't get on the hook of this, say, you live onto the northwest side of Wichita, you could be seeing wind gusts in excess of 60 miles per hour. So it's this whole purple box, everybody from Goddard, extending over towards Bruno, down here in Rockford, stretching all the way up towards Sedgwick, itself.

All you folks are going to be seeing the impacts from this storm. So it's a tornado emergency. This is new wording. You know there are only five National Weather Service offices in the country that have changed to these upgraded systems as kind of a test basis because 2011, Don, as you know was such a deadly, sad year for so many people. So they're hoping -- using terms like tornado emergency, they're hoping with words -- this piece of paper, for example, say impact, major house and building damage likely.

LEMON: I noticed that, yes.

JERAS: Complete destruction possible, you know, some roads will possibly be blocked by tornado debris, complete destruction of vehicles likely. This is the strongest wording we've ever seen from the government on anything. The closest thing I've seen to this in the past perhaps was in Hurricane Katrina when we saw very strong wordings about how destructive that storm was going to be.

So hopefully things like this will help people in the future determine the difference between this confirmed tornado on the ground is causing power flashes and damage on the southwest side of Wichita as a tornado emergency versus a Doppler radar indicated. Tornado warning where we're not sure if it's on the ground or not, and whether or not it's in a real populated place or not. So we know thousands and thousands of people living in Wichita, concert events going on there tonight. Proms going on there tonight.

By the way, I do know that some proms in Kansas were canceled tonight ahead of the storm. They've decided the risk was too great. We're not going to have prom. We're going to rescheduled it for tomorrow so hopefully that's the case for a lot of these events.

LEMON: And Jacqui, I noticed as I read that, too, from the National Weather Service that they couldn't have been any clearer.


LEMON: Get out of the way is basically what that is saying, get out of the way. Jacqui, man, thanks. Leading this coverage.

I want to get to our other meteorologist now, Jacqui, who's out in the field storm-chasing -- there he is, Rob Marciano, Nash, Oklahoma.

Rob, you saw some incredible stuff today. You've been following this same system from Oklahoma and now it's in Kansas.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, the second storm cell that we peeled off to go chase. It was -- it had a history of producing tornadoes as it exited Woodward, Oklahoma and headed towards this direction. We're inside our satellite truck which having problems with the dish itself so the transmission is not that great, might be a little bit jerky at times, but the second cell that we caught up to here in Nash and a little bit further to the west in Cherokee, where we collided -- we intercepted it, the funnel before it touched the ground and then what happened after that is quite remarkable.

Hopefully you can see some of this. We've got here -- some of the footage here on the -- on the player here on the satellite -- in the satellite truck itself. And you can see that the wide cone tornado touching down here, less than a mile away from us, moving to the northeast at about 30, 35 miles an hour. So moving relatively slowly, but certainly giving plenty of time to organize.

At this point, it's not doing much damage. It's out in a fairly wide open area. There was some damage a little farther up the road in Manchester. But even a little bit further, I'm going to fast forward to something that's really -- something unusual. All right. Not one, but two tornadoes with this same cell. So that gives you an idea, Don, just how massive this mesocyclone is. And --

LEMON: The picture of you --

MARCIANO: And -- many iterations where one of those storms just would get -- would get -- the bigger one would get smaller and then -- and then they will both lift, and then it got dark and they moved all towards the north and east, cross the border and this is the same cell that you see now entering the southern part of which. Had amazing structure with it.

Brian Smith, who's a tornado expert, a chaser that we teamed up with today, was beside himself when he was in our car chasing with us at just how amazing the structure of this cell was. And he called it immediately, that this thing is going to drop a huge tornado before or sometimes shortly after nightfall and that's exactly what we're seeing now as it heads to -- to the southern part of Wichita. A scary situation.

LEMON: Hey, Rob, you e-mailed me this picture and this is well after you were out of danger. And as a meteorologist, to see something like this I'm sure for you was just unbelievable. You're standing between -- is that two funnels that you're standing in between there? And where were you? MARCIANO: Yes, that's -- the dual tornadoes, as that -- as that entire cell moved just to the north and east of us. It's back through here, the same -- the same cell I just showed you, but at the time it wasn't doing any damage. So --

LEMON: Right.

MARCIANO: We were just in awe.

LEMON: Right.

MARCIANO: Of the beauty of this storm, Don. And quite honestly, this was my first real tornado intercept. And to be it not one, but two was phenomenal to me to say the least as a life-long meteorologist.


MARCIANO: And knowing at the time that it wasn't doing any major damage, and also knowing that it had the potential to do that was scary. So a beautiful and scary thing and in some cases somewhat a spiritual thing at the same time with this earlier today but now reality is setting in a little bit as it's now crossed the border in south central Kansas.

LEMON: It just looked like you're in awe as anyone would be. I mean you're standing there and it had passed, and there was no damage. It was -- you're out of harm's way. But to stand there and see two funnel clouds right in the distance from you, who wouldn't be in awe of that?

Rob, we're glad you're safe and we're going to continue to check with you out in the field. Don't go anywhere, Rob. But make sure you stay safe out there, because we want to get to Creston, Iowa, where there -- a hospital has been damaged and we're trying to get information out of there.

Rob Marciano is going to stand by in Oklahoma. Jacqui Jeras is here with us in the CNN Severe Weather Center. And then we've got our Susan Candiotti who is in Wichita at a hotel. She is hearing those emergency sirens going off and she's going to update us, as well. We're not going to go far away from the story.

This is a destructive system or destructive systems hitting the Midwest. And if you are anywhere near this area, listen to what Jacqui and Rob have been telling you. Take shelter. Take shelter now. Short break, we're back.


LEMON: OK, breaking news. The specific area is Wichita. In that area, very dangerous right now when it comes to tornadoes -- look at that radar, Jacqui Jeras. Man, look at that radar, will you?

JERAS: Actually our most recent report that we had right here just kind of cross at Interstate 35. If I swap over to the velocity mode here it's going to show you a better idea where this thing has moved. So it came in out of Clearwater area here. And then see how it cycled through and our tornado pushed right over here, so it's closer towards Derby which is bringing it maybe a little bit further east of the downtown area so that might spare it a little bit and that's what we're hoping for, maybe staying out into the -- some of the areas to the east of there so very near the interstate.

LEMON: This is right near the downtown area, Jacqui?

JERAS: Yes. So here is where the downtown area is, right? Here's Clearwater where we passed some of that damage. This is all suburban, getting into the Derby area and up over towards Andover. So this is where we're talking about right now.


JERAS: So you want to stop that. See how it's cycling through?


JERAS: And then it came on right up here. So this is the area that we're talking about. And this is -- let me go back to this map. OK? So somewhere in here as I look into the velocity.

LEMON: The reason --

JERAS: Just 235 it goes around the city, and it's somewhere in this area now.

LEMON: I don't want to -- I don't mean to cut you off, but the reason I'm asking you that is because we're getting our first live pictures, Jacqui. And I want --


LEMON: Yes, that's Susan Candiotti who's in Wichita.

Susan, are you there? It's going in and out so bear with the technology here because we're in the middle of a storm system but there is Susan in Wichita.

Susan, can you hear me? Having problems hearing Susan but anyway --

CANDIOTTI: I can hear you now but the sirens are going. (INAUDIBLE). If you could make it out in my hand (INAUDIBLE), it's pretty small (INAUDIBLE) --

LEMON: Yes, hey, listen, our viewers can't understand any of that. Let's wait.

CANDIOTTI: -- talking about and we've been discussing all evening.

LEMON: OK. Now it's better.

CANDIOTTI: I'm sure you can hear that siren now.

LEMON: Yes, we can hear you better.

CANDIOTTI: It is time for people to be inside.

LEMON: There we go.

CANDIOTTI: In their shelters, if they aren't already. And many people seem to be taking heed of that. At this hotel, for example, we're seeing a lot of the guests have all come down to the first floor as everyone has been instructed to do, to remain on the lowest floor and inside and away from all the windows.

We've also seen some people who live in the area who -- they don't have a shelter at home, no safe house, no basement. So they too have come here to take shelter.

LEMON: Susan.

CANDIOTTI: Warning these people have been hearing them all day long. They've been watching tornadoes touchdown in various parts of the state.

LEMON: Susan.

CANDIOTTI: Now it is finally approaching the biggest populated area in the state so far. Every place else hunting down in rural areas. And this is what really concerns communities, this area the most, because this is where the most number of people live. Therefore, there is the highest amount of possible catastrophic damage that could occur in a concentrated area, Don. So we're going to be watching to see what develops certainly within a short period of time.

The skies are lighting up with lightning. We're hearing thunder. A lot of rain and of course now hail, too -- Don.

LEMON: So, Susan, I -- my producers were telling me that they -- you can hear me. Can you hear me now? All right. That's an indication that Susan cannot hear me.

So we're trying to get Susan's exact location. Don't know exactly where she is in Wichita. And she apparently cannot hear me through this particular system. If you, guys, can get her on the phone and find out exactly where she is, because we want Jacqui Jeras to be able to tell us where -- what's going on in that area.

JERAS: I want to make sure she's in a safe place.


JERAS: Because oftentimes you'll get in the hail shaft of the storm and you'll have a little lull and you think OK, storm passed me. But it's behind that hail shaft where the tornado is. So we want to make sure Susan stays safe. And we've got a team of meteorologists working behind the scenes that are going to be in touch with her.

LEMON: Hey, Jacqui.

JERAS: And make sure she's safe, too.

LEMON: Can I get -- I know a lot of information for our viewers, as well.


LEMON: But I'm being told they want to get to Iowa right now. There's someone on the phone.


LEMON: John Benson, Iowa Department of Emergency Management.

Mr. Benson, how are you?


LEMON: Tell us what you're seeing, what's going on where you are.

BENSON: Well, right now we're working on a couple of big issues. One of them starts on the west side of the state with a small town of Thurman (ph). It's about 200 people. Essentially they've evacuated the town this evening, because most every house in that town did have some type of impact related to itself.

We've been working towards establishing a facility for those folks to get some rest this evening and then the other one, as you travel a little further east across the state, it's in the city of Creston. The hospital in that town was impacted this evening and had some windows blown out, roof damage, things of that nature. And they are in the process of relocating 20 patients out of that hospital. They're moving them to three neighboring county hospitals. So we're working a couple of different issues this evening in response to the storms.

LEMON: OK. And this is -- you know, it's hitting Kansas, it's hitting your area as well. And you -- talk to me about reports of injuries or death. Anything like that?

BENSON: At this point, we haven't had any confirmed injury or fatality reports. But as we go through the evening, obviously we're -- I would anticipate that we might see some of those type of reports, too, just due to the sheer magnitude and the severity of the storms but at this point we don't have any confirmed injuries or fatalities.

JERAS: Mr. Benson, it's Jacqui Jeras. A quick question for you. There's what we call the ratio event or a derecho event or a very strong damaging wind event that looks like it just passed through Cedar Rapids and around Iowa City, and towards the Clod Cities area right now. What do you know about that storm and what kind wind damage it may have caused? BENSON: At this point we haven't seen any confirmed damage reports as that thing has moved across the state. I know personally where I live in the city of Des Moines, it's the hardest I've ever seen it blow there and I've been there for 20 years. So I would anticipate as we go through the night and as people get out from underneath the storms, we'll start to see damage reports develop. But we haven't seen any confirmed reports out of the east side of the state yet this evening.


LEMON: I want to ask him, Jacqui, about the Creston, Iowa, the hospital.

Mr. Benson?


LEMON: Tell me about the hospital. Is this a picture of the hospital? This is a picture of the hospital. This is -- this is pretty grave.

JERAS: Yes, that's Google Earth, I think it what it looks like before the damage.

LEMON: Yes, this is from -- OK, that's Google -- Google Earth. Our Google.

So, listen, what is the deal? What are you hearing about this hospital in Creston?

BENSON: Well, what we do know at this point is that it wasn't a massive structural failure, it was more window type impacts, windows blown out of the building, damage to the roof and that type of thing. And I believe the administrators of the facility decided that it was safer for the patients to get them out of there, relocate them to other hospitals in the area that were not impacted by any of the weather that happened.

So they're in the process of doing that, moving approximately 20 patients to three neighboring counties. The last report is that they were finishing up the last four relocations and they'll have those done fairly quickly so all of those patients will once again be under real good quality care.

LEMON: Yes. Very good. Thanks. Anymore questions? I think we're good. Thank you very much, John Benson. We appreciate it, Iowa Department of Emergency Management, updating us on the hospital in Creston and the reports of damage. You said so far no reports of injuries, which is good. No reports of death, right, Jacqui. That's good.


LEMON: And here, and we're following --

JERAS: It's all great.

LEMON: Yes. In Wichita where --

JERAS: So far, right?

LEMON: Yes, so far. Right.

JERAS: But, you know, Wichita is under extreme, you know, tornado emergency right now.

LEMON: Right.

JERAS: We've got confirmed damage that just is occurring like literally in the last 30 seconds they hear from the Wichita airport. OK? So this live streamer is showing that area and pixely, it's not the best video, but it does look like there is some damage. It looks like maybe, you know, look at things are kind of flapping in the wind there.


JERAS: Maybe pieces of that building. So we don't know how widespread that is but we know the tornado has now moved on from the airport and it's really looking at eastern parts of the town. OK, so western suburbs of Wichita, looking fine right now.

LEMON: Hey, Jacqui?

JERAS: So you guys are out of the woods. Still moving this way.

LEMON: I'm looking at new video that I saw coming in. Is that still up? Do we have that new video?

JERAS: Of the streaming --

LEMON: There we go. There's the hospital in Creston, Iowa, Jacqui.


LEMON: That we're talking about. That is our affiliate KCCI. You heard from Mr. Benson there, from the Iowa Department of Emergency Management. He said there was no major structural failure. But look at those pictures.

JERAS: Right.

LEMON: KCCI is our affiliate. But they did have to, because of the damage, they had to move some patients, they had to do a triage area in different places. So there it is --

JERAS: Lots of windows broken out.


JERAS: I know some cars were flipped in the parking lot there as well.

LEMON: Yes. We're going to take a quick break. Our first picture is coming in. You saw the hospital in Iowa. We're going to continue to follow this, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, wherever these storms are, where they're heading, we're going to update you. Nebraska, as well. Short break, don't go anywhere.


LEMON: Look at that. Two tornadoes in Kansas. On the right is Salina. Not exactly sure what the one on the left is, but man, it sure looks big and powerful. A serious tornado outbreak in the middle part of the country. And we're following breaking news right now on CNN.

We're going to talk more about Salina, Jacqui Jeras. But I think we need to talk about Wichita, because they're in --


LEMON: In harm's way right now.

JERAS: Right. So this is the east side of Wichita now. If you live west of 35, you're done with this particular storm. But you could see more development overnight. So keep that in mind. I don't want you to totally breathe easy over there, but this particular storm, a tornado emergency remains in effect for eastern parts of Wichita.

The most recent location was near McConnell Air Force Base and it's very strong wording being issued by the National Weather Service out of Wichita. It's something new that they're doing, and using very strong terms, like this is a life threatening situation, you must be under ground, complete destruction of entire neighborhoods is likely. So this is really the first we've seen them roll out such extreme warnings on storms like this and they do it when we know there's a tornado on the ground and we know it's moving into a populated area.

Multiple reports on the south side of town of power flashes and power outages. So we know some people are now in the dark and it's right here along 235 in this area, where the storm is going to be tracking. So here's where we think the rotation is, and it's moving northeast around 35 miles per hour.

So if we look a little bit closer here on our wind mode, where we can see the turning of the winds in the atmosphere, we're looking at places like -- just east of Eastborough over towards Andover. This is going to be the area that's getting hit now and getting hit next as this storm continues to push on through. So danger continues to loom into the eastern parts of the Wichita area.

Also want to check in our storm chasers here. We've got a network. Dozens of storm chasers literally out live streaming with some of this damage. Who do we have on the phone?

LEMON: Meteorologist and the storm chaser, Jacqui. JERAS: All right.

LEMON: I was looking here online, people were talking about the damage at the Wichita airport. They said that there was luggage carts that were turned over and hangars were wide open.

So -- and Brandon Redmond is the meteorologist and a storm chaser.

Brandon, you're near the Wichita airport. What are you seeing?

BRANDON REDMOND, STORM CHASER: Well, basically, the tornado formed right over us. We were actually caught in the tornado. It's probably one of the scariest moments of my life. And we also have to take as much precaution as possible. However, we lost radar data. It's obviously the middle of the night. And had a bad road network, so we couldn't get out of ahead of the tornado.

And it reformed right over us. Just southwest of the Wichita airport, significant damage at the top -- at the Wichita airport where we have multiple hangars that have been exposed, luggage carts that have been thrown all over the tarmac. Also trees and power lines down all across the area.

Debris that was literally flying over our heads as the tornado moved over the top of our vehicle. Luckily we're all OK, no injuries here. But we're driving through back into Wichita and we're passing numerous emergency vehicles. You can probably hear them in the background as they're approaching us right now. But lots of -- lots of damage in Wichita. And obviously as people out ahead of the storm need to take it very seriously.

JERAS: Brandon, what are you seeing for damage? I mean are you just seeing spotty things or you're seeing things leveled? How extreme is the --

REDMOND: Well, we haven't seen anything leveled yet. We're going back into the residential area. There were factories near the airport. Actually we couldn't get -- we couldn't get back past where the airport was because there was so much debris on the roadway. So we're trying to go back and around right now but lots of debris in the industry, but southern part of Wichita, there's lots of industry, lots of factories near the airport. Heavy damage there throughout (INAUDIBLE) all the windows. (INAUDIBLE) old roofs that were torn off. I mean obviously the significant damage at the airport right now. We're on our way back towards the residential subdivisions.

JERAS: Right. And you're talking about the commercial airport, right? Because I know there's also been damage at the air force base there at McConnell.

REDMOND: Yes -- as far as I know, this is the commercial airport on the southern side of Wichita, because there are large jets there, that looked like Boeing jets that were there in the hangars that had been exposed in the hangars so --

LEMON: Brandon --

JERAS: How many miles?

LEMON: I believe that's Brandon's pictures, right? That was --

JERAS: I'm not sure.


JERAS: Brandon, are you on iMask stream?

LEMON: Those are. Those are his pictures.

JERAS: Are you SWAT chasers?

REDMOND: Yes, we are.



REDMOND: We are right now. We're still streaming live.


REDMOND: We're heading back towards the damage at the airport because we can't get back this way but the power lines being down. But yes, we actually have -- we streamed live. And hopefully we can get the video from Chaser TV. As the tornado passed over us, we had live video up and running the entire time and had about 4,000 people watching.




REDMOND: That's the priority at that time and at that point, we were hunkered down in the vehicle praying that we were going to make it out in one piece but --

LEMON: We'd love to see that -- we'd love to see that video.


LEMON: Brandon, don't go anywhere, because we want to keep -- continue to talk to you.

Brandon is streaming live now and you see that SWAT Chasers on. He's talking to Jacqui Jeras and talking to me here as well.

Don't go anywhere. We're going to continue to talk to Brandon Redmond who's a meteorologist and a storm chaser. He's in Wichita, Kansas. Jacqui is going to join us as well as the rest of CNN staff. Susan Candiotti is in Wichita, as well. Rob Marciano is in Oklahoma tonight.

We've got it all covered for you. Not out of the woods yet. There's lots more to talk about when it comes to this very dangerous weather system that's going through the Midwest.


LEMON: All right. Breaking news. Tornado. A tornado outbreak in the Midwest.

Jacqui Jeras, Salina really getting hit today, because there were two earlier and now again there's trouble.

JERAS: Yes. That's right. So a tornado warning in effect for Salina this time. This is different than our Wichita storms. So I want to show you the area that we're talking about right here. A large destructive tornado has been confirmed near Marquette. It's moving northeast and it's heading towards Salina. Now let's show you the video from earlier today. This was just a couple of hours ago, maybe a handful of hours ago, where there was a large stovepipe tornado heading towards Salina.

There you can see some of the debris kicking up. Thankfully with that tornado it stayed in a fairly rural area and there was very little damage associated with it, but that thing was about a quarter of a mile wide at times and was very scary situation for a lot of those folks. So unfortunately we've got another storm that's tracking and heading into that area and folks in Salina need to be taking cover.

A new statement just sent to me here from our producer. This is from McPherson County in central Kansas. Confirmed large and extremely dangerous tornado update. This is what I'm talking about. The Marquette one moving northeast at 55 miles per hour. And they're using that strong wording again that I was talking about, Don, saying major house and building damage likely, and complete destruction is possible. Location, Salina.

Smolan, which had some damage earlier today. Gypsum, New Cambria, which also had some moderate damage earlier today in Salina airport, all being included on this. This also includes along I-70, between mile markers 246 and 266. So we've got two tornado emergencies basically taking place in the state Kansas at this time. One area, which has already been hit a bit today.

LEMON: Jacqui, OK. Don't go anywhere, Jacqui. And you can help me out with this.

Sharon Watson, you and I have been speaking to her on and off this evening. She is with the Kansas Emergency Management Agency.

So, listen, what can you tell us about Wichita and also this new threat to Salina?

SHARON WATSON, KANSAS EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: Well, right now, the focus has been on trying to determine all of the damage that may be there around the city of Wichita, because of these continual reports of the funnel dropping down and then picking back up, dissipating, some hitting again. So it's just been an on and off again situation in that area. So we are getting some reports, though, some damage to that community, some homes (INAUDIBLE), some at McConnell Air Force Base. Just all of those that we're working to confirm, but those are the reports that are coming into us at this point.

LEMON: What about the airport? Because -- what? We thought it was McConnell and then also there are reports of -- are we talking about the airport at McConnell or we're talking about another airport here with the damage?

WATSON: McConnell Air Force Base is at this time the one that's being reported as having some affected -- effects from the storm. And there's also some scattered reports of other damage around. We want to get to more information to try to confirm the extent of that damage.

LEMON: And still nothing as far as injuries or anyone hurt at all?

WATSON: Not at this time. Fortunately throughout the state, we have not had any reports of injuries even though we had (INAUDIBLE) reports of scattered damage throughout the state today.

LEMON: Yes. Jacqui?

JERAS: Yes, we're just getting reports now. I wanted to mention near Andover, that's where the tornado is now. On the east side of Wichita. Still on the ground, still a large wedge tornado that's moving to the north and east. So here you can see Wichita proper is way over here. Here is Augusta. Here's El Dorado. I-35 intersects and the location of the rotation is right in here. So that's right around Andover.

LEMON: All right. Our meteorologist Jacqui Jeras standing by and Sharon Watson with the Kansas Emergency Management Agency, also standing by updating us, saying reports of damage, but so far no reports of injuries or any deaths. That is good news so far, so far.

We're going to continue to cover this story. Don't go anywhere. Lots more right after this break.


LEMON: All right. Breaking news we're following here on CNN. Look at that. That is Kansas, the one on the right is near Salina, Kansas, which they got hit earlier and by the way, they're in danger of getting hit again.

Our Jacqui Jeras is going to talk about that and the left -- the one on the left is south of Salina. Both these near Salina.

Let's go now to Iowa, Creston, Iowa, where there are reports of a hospital being hit in Creston, Iowa. We spoke to the head of the Emergency Management Department a short time ago and said there was structural damage but everything appears to be OK. They're triaging patients, putting them in other places.

To our meteorologist now, Jacqui Jeras, who's been guiding our coverage.

Jacqui, Salina getting hit again?

JERAS: Yes, they -- well, it's just southwest of there right now. Here's the Salina storm that we're talking about. There's a confirmed tornado on the ground, just south of the city. So they're under a tornado emergency, and need to be seeking shelter immediately if they haven't already done so.

We're also tracking our storm here just outside of Wichita at a rotation near Andover right now so downtown Wichita and Wichita proper, you guys are in the clear at this time. But the threat of tornadoes is going to be ongoing overnight. And this is the whole area that we're talking about. The bright pink at greatest risk. All you guys are already under a watch at this time and it extends all the way down into Texas all the way up through Iowa and starts to nudge it into Wisconsin.

As we head through tomorrow, especially by tomorrow afternoon and evening, we may be seeing more violent tornadoes and there are moderate risks already issued for places like Madison, Wisconsin, and up towards Wausau, maybe even towards Lacrosse, Wisconsin. So the severe weather will continue throughout the weekend.

As people go to bed tonight, Don, they need to make sure they have their NOAA weather radio on.


JERAS: They've got their app on their iPhone, whatever they've got to wake them up as these storms approach.

LEMON: Absolutely. Make sure you heed the advice that Jacqui Jeras just gave you.

Jacqui, what a night.


LEMON: We started covering, doing stories about politics and other issues and we ended up covering breaking news about the weather.

Thank you, Jacqui Jeras.

Make sure you stay tuned to CNN. We'll keep you updated on the threat of these tornadoes and severe weather.

I'm Don Lemon. I'll see you in a minute.