MAYFIELD, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear said dozens, maybe up to 100, were killed in western Kentucky after a long and significant tornado ripped through the area overnight.
“This is going to be some of the worst tornado damage that we’ve seen in a long time,” Beshear said early Saturday. “This is likely to be the most severe tornado outbreak in our state’s history.”
“We believe our death toll from this event will exceed 50 Kentuckians and probably end up 70 to 100,” said Beshear.
The city of Mayfield, Kentucky was hit particularly hard, including a candle manufacturing factory that was operating at the time the twister hit. There were 110 people in the building at the time that it was nearly collapsed by the tornado. Dozens are expected to be lost from there, Beshear said.
“This tornado event may surpass the 1974 super outbreak as one of the most deadly in Kentucky’s history,” said Kentucky Emergency Management Director Michael Dossett.
Dossett went on to say that rescue efforts are underway and being conducted by local response teams while Beshear said the National Guard has been activated, with 181 guardsmen being deployed. Kentucky State Police have been working all night to save lives as well.
Beshear has also requested President Joe Biden to declare a federal state of emergency.
The tornado that ravaged multiple Kentucky counties also killed people in Arkansas. The supercell has been weakening and strengthening as it has moved throughout the night and morning.
Beshear said the tornado that hit Mayfield was a tornado that touched down and stayed on the ground for 227 miles.
That tornado started in the northeastern corner of Arkansas and followed a northeasterly path from there that took it through parts of Missouri and Tennessee before slashing into over 200 miles of Kentucky.
That makes that single tornado likely to eclipse the track of the current record holding 1925 tri-state tornado as the longest tornado in terms of touchdown time in the entire nation’s history.
The long red circled area in this graphic shows that tornado’s path.
There were two more tornados reported very close to each other south of the tornado that severely hit Mayfield.
The governor declared a state of emergency after 1 a.m. and he activated the Kentucky National Guard and Kentucky State Police to help the areas affected.
Severe winds have been reported throughout the night as well. More damage is expected to come from that as well.
There have also been reports of a strong tornado in Bowling Green, and reports of another in Taylorsville.
Beshear noted that Dawson Springs, his father former Governor Steve Beshear’s hometown, was also hit really hard as well.
Power outages are also beginning to climb across the western Kentucky area, according to Beshear.
There will be more updates to come as the sun rises. Daybreak will likely reveal the loss of life and property damage to climb even more.
Beshear predicted loss of life in at least five Kentucky counties.
The following counties were all affected to some degree or another: Fulton, Hickman, Graves, Marshall, Lyon, Caldwell, Hopkins, Muhlenberg, Breckinridge, Ohio, Bullitt, Spencer, Shelby, Logan, Christian, Warren, Edmonson, Taylor and Marion.
The storm system is expected to be fully dissipated by 10 a.m. EST.