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Deadly Tornadoes Wreak Havoc Across The Great Plains

This image, made from a video taken through a car window, shows a tornado near Wynnewood, Okla., on Monday. A broad tornado capable of leaving "catastrophic" damage in its wake churned across the Oklahoma landscape Monday, prompting forecasters to declare a tornado emergency for two communities directly in its path.

A series of tornadoes across the Great Plains on Monday killed at least two people and devastated multiple towns.

Homes were demolished, cars flipped over and trees stripped of their bark, according to wire reports.

Oklahoma was the hardest hit, though twisters also struck Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois and Arkansas, as tallied by the National Weather Service. More than 20 tornadoes were spotted, the NWS says.

The two reported fatalities were in Wynnewood and Connerville, both towns in southern Oklahoma, according to The Associated Press.

The AP spoke with residents across Oklahoma who described hunkering down for safety — in laundry rooms, truck stop showers and school safe rooms — as the storms came close.

One man in Nebraska couldn't make it to shelter, but he was lucky, the wire service reports:

"Sandy Weyers, the director of the Cass County Emergency Management office, said a homeowner didn't make it inside by the time the tornado arrived so he grabbed onto a tree and 'rode it out.' Weyers said the man suffered only cuts and scrapes, while the home was a total loss after the roof and four outer walls gave way."

Storm chasers were drawn to the deadly spectacle. In one video, near Wynnewood, you can hear the chasers discuss their possible escape routes as debris drops on their car; in another, taken near Davis and Sulphur, the roar of the tornado is nearly deafening.

Earlier, over the weekend, Colorado was also struck by a series of tornadoes that damaged buildings and caused minor injuries; no fatalities were reported.

Those storms, too, attracted storm chasers — including a group who recorded 360-degree video as they approached the storm. (Click and drag to turn the camera toward the front.)

The Colorado twisters also served as a striking backdrop for one young couple's prom portraits.

The AP says the photos were snapped from a safe distance, and that the prom itself was delayed to make sure there was no danger from the tornadoes.

There's a "slight risk" of severe thunderstorms across the Great Plains today, including hail and high winds, according to the National Weather Service.

And Accuweather reports the threat of tornadoes might return on Wednesday; Missouri and Illinois may be in the bull's-eye.

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