The greatest and most devastating five tornadoes that ripped through Kentucky on Saturday night traveled hundreds of miles and several states.
The storm originated in Arkansas, according to Kentucky Emergency Management Division Director Michael Dossett, and landed in Missouri and Tennessee before entering Bluegrass State, where it crossed half western part of the state before finally weakening in central Kentucky.
Seventy-six people have been confirmed dead, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said.
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Where did the tornado hit Kentucky?
In Kentucky, it hit Mayfield directly before moving northeast through Benton, Princeton and Beaver Dam before weakening in Breckinridge County. His path stretched more than 220 miles, Beshear said at a 5 a.m. news conference covering the devastation.
Mayfield was hit hard. More than 100 people worked at a candle-making factory during the storm, Beshear said, and a collapse of the facility’s roof claimed “many casualties”.
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Bowling Green, home of Western Kentucky University, also suffered extensive damage – the school canceled commencement ceremonies scheduled for Saturday in the wake of the storm.
Three more tornadoes were reported in Kentucky overnight, although those storms were reportedly smaller than the one that hit Mayfield. All four tornadoes touched down in western Kentucky.
Even counties that haven’t been hit by tornadoes have been hit by storms. More than 12,300 Louisville Gas & Electric customers were without power as of 8:30 p.m., according to LG&E’s power map.
What type of tornado hit Kentucky?
For the largest tornado category, the National Weather Service office in Paducah tweeted On Saturday, it would probably take “time to make a decision on the intensity/rating”.
But the weather service initially said the damage appeared consistent with an F3 tornado capable of producing winds as strong as 206 mph.
Paducah’s office also said an aerial damage assessment appeared to show a “historic long-track tornado” that measured at least three-quarters of a mile across Kentucky as it tracked southwest from Cayce in Fulton County to at least Beaver Dam in Ohio County.
The storm traveled more than 220 miles from Arkansas to Kentucky.
Thursday, the National Weather Service tweeted that the portion of the tornado that passed through western Kentucky received a preliminary damage rating of EF4.
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What county is Mayfield, KY in?
Mayfield is south of Paducah, a town in western Kentucky with an estimated population of around 25,000 people. Mayfield, with a population of approximately 10,000, is in Graves County, which borders Tennessee.
“It was one of the toughest nights in Kentucky history, and some areas were affected in ways that are hard to describe,” Beshear said.
Lucas Aulbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 502-582-4649 or on Twitter @LucasAulbach.