The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said a mother and baby were among the dead, and emergency officials said reports of injuries were “widespread.”
Tornadoes hit Oklahoma City on Friday evening, smashing vehicles along a major highway during rush hour. Highway Patrol Trooper Betsy Randolph said troopers found woman and baby near a vehicle along Interstate 40 west of the city.
But meteorologists said the fury of Friday’s storm didn’t match that of the one that struck Moore, the suburb where a top-of-the-scale tornado killed 24 on May 20.
“Not even close,” Rick Smith, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said in a text message relayed by the Storm Prediction Center.
Violent weather also moved through the St. Louis area, ripping the roof off a suburban casino.
Passengers at Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers World Airport were directed into underground tunnels, and inbound and outbound flights were canceled.
Television cameras showed debris falling from the sky.
The region is in part of the Midwest US known as Tornado Alley. The US averages more than 1,200 tornadoes a year and most are relatively small.
Floodwaters up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) deep hampered Oklahoma City rescue attempts.
“We’re scrambling around,” said Lara O’Leary, a spokeswoman for the local ambulance agency. “There is very low visibility with the heavy rain … so we’re having trouble getting around.
“The damage is very, very widespread.” (AP)