The day was beautiful, without a cloud in the sky. By mid-afternoon, however, the sky had darkened and forecasters talked about the possibility of late afternoon and evening thunderstorms. The weather continued to deteriorate throughout the balance of the day and by evening, the threat of severe weather was present.

At 9:20 p.m., a severe thunderstorm was in the area and a tornado warning was issued. An F4 tornado formed and touched ground at 9:36 p.m. and directly hit the first town in its path. The devastation was complete: more than 75 homes were either completely destroyed or severely damaged; stores and businesses were decimated; and the school sustained severe damage that rendered it useless as a place of shelter. The local hospital, while still functional, was operating on a generator, its staff overtaxed by the number of injured. The death toll was already at 32 and expected to rise. Three of the four places of worship in this community were severely damaged, their structural stability questionable.

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