A series of tornadoes and strong storms ripped through parts of western Kentucky late Friday night and early Saturday, leaving dozens dead and many more injured and displaced.
The first reports of tornadoes in the Mayfield area came in at about 10 p.m. Friday. First responders and rescue units have been going through the debris and damage ever since, increasingly revealing just how deadly the storm was.
Here’s the latest on what we know about the state of the Commonwealth:
KY DEATH TOLL INCREASE
In his last press conference at 11 am Saturday, Gov. Andy Beshear said the death toll across the state now exceeds 70. He also said the number could rise to more than 100 as crews continue to search for victims.
Beshear initially reported that 50 Kentucky residents were killed in his initial press conference at 5 a.m. Saturday. A final and official death toll will likely not be released for quite some time due to extensive damage.
MAYFIELD FACTORY HARD HIT
A candle factory was hit directly by a tornado Friday night, and Beshear said the biggest loss of life from the storm will come from the factory.
Beshear reported that 110 people were inside the factory when it was hit by a tornado. Since then, 40 people have been rescued, leaving 70 missing. The last rescue attempt was at 3:30 am on Saturday.
“We are going to lose a lot of lives in that facility,” Beshear said. “I pray for another rescue … I believe the greatest loss of life in this tornado is and will be there.”
WKU CANCEL THE START
Western Kentucky University canceled its opening ceremony scheduled for Saturday after a tornado struck Bowling Green at approximately 1 a.m. local time.
Officer Ronnie Ward, a spokesman for the city police department, told the Herald-Leader that they are currently in rescue mode after widespread damage. It was previously reported that a WKU student died from the storm, but WKU later corrected itself and said that a relative of a WKU student died instead.
The National Weather Service in Louisville said an EF3 tornado with wind speeds of up to 150 miles per hour hit Bowling Green.
DISTRICT COURT JUDGE AMONG TORNADO DEAD
Brian Crick, district judge for McLean and Muhlenberg counties, was killed Saturday in tornadoes that ravaged western Kentucky.
DEADLY TORNADO COULD SET RECORD
The Kentucky Division of Emergency Management reported that the tornado that struck Mayfield and western Kentucky traveled 223 miles. If confirmed by the National Weather Service, that would break a 96-year record for the longest continuous distance traveled by a tornado.
BOYLE COUNTY DAMAGED
Three T-hangars and several planes were destroyed by a tornado that hit the Danville-Boyle County Airport at approximately 4 a.m. Saturday. No one was injured, but other parts of the city were also damaged.
LEXINGTON FIRE DEPARTMENT RESPONDING TO GRAVES COUNTY
The Lexington Fire Department is dispatching 10 personnel and four aircraft to western Kentucky to assist with rescue efforts. Units are expected to arrive in Graves County on Saturday afternoon.
KENTUCKY POLITICIANS SHOW SUPPORT
Kentucky politicians and people around the world continue to offer their condolences and support as more details are revealed about the deadly storm that destroyed parts of Kentucky.
United States Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Saturday that he will work with the entire Kentucky federal delegation to support Governor Andy Beshear’s request for federal assistance “to help these affected communities with funds and resources. they need to rebuild. “
WHERE THIS STORM CLASSIFIES ALL THE TIME
With reports of more than 70 casualties initially, the nighttime storm in Kentucky could end up being one of the deadliest storms to ever hit Kentucky, possibly the United States.
This story was originally published December 11, 2021 1:18 pm