May 20, 2019 / 6:18 PM / a month ago

Tornadoes touch down in Texas and Oklahoma as forecasters warn more could hit

(Reuters) - Tornadoes touched down on Monday in Texas and Oklahoma, where about 6 million people were facing the risk of twisters, hail and other severe weather, officials said.

The U.S. National Weather Service has warned the risk of tornadoes in the region was at the highest level they had seen in years.

The area under greatest threat stretched across 400 miles (644 km) from Stillwater, Oklahoma to Snyder, Texas. It could see extreme weather also including thunderstorms and possible flash flooding, said meteorologist Bob Oravec of the federal Weather Prediction Center.

About a dozen tornadoes had touched down by Monday evening, including one in southwest Oklahoma near the town of Mangum and another in southwest Texas, said Jared Guyer, lead forecaster at the federal Storm Prediction Center.

It was not immediately clear if the twisters caused any injuries.

The last time any part of the United States had seen a risk of tornado activity this elevated was in 2012, said Patrick Marsh, a warning coordination meteorologist at the Storm Prediction Center.

He advised people in the region to have a plan for seeking shelter if a storm approaches.

The silhouette of a tornado appears during a lightning strike in Haskell, Oklahoma, U.S., May 20, 2019 in this image obtained from social media. Matthew Harden via REUTERS

“Today is not a day to mess around,” said Marsh.

The Oklahoma City public school system and the University of Oklahoma in Norman were shut down because of the dangerous weather threat.

While Oklahoma and Texas faced the most significant risk of tornadoes, the nearby states of Kansas and Arkansas could also see twisters, Marsh said.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Chris Reese and Rosalba O'Brien

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