"Everything was absolutely crushed here," said Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel, reporting from Linwood Wednesday morning.
Up to 30 homes and a business were destroyed or damaged, Leavenworth County Undersheriff Jim Sherley said, adding that first responders had gone door to door searching homes that dot the rural area. Trees and power lines were downed, while vehicles including big rigs were tossed like toys.
At least one person was killed, according to local authorities, when the swirling vortices threw a vehicle into the victims house. Videos posted on Twitter last night show demonic images of one of the tornadoes, a massive wedge connecting the clouds and the ground, looming in the distance, illuminated by nothing but the flashes of electricity as it snapped power lines like twigs and the tornado sirens screamed:
Video: Massive tornado on ground threatening Kansas City area
1 dead, 130 injured as twisters rip through Ohio and Indiana
Sherley told weather.com there were several injuries, both from the tornado and the cleanup, but he was not aware of any that were life-threatening.
There was so much debris strewn across I-75 that it wasnt a matter of shutting a stretch of it down, having a few workers hop out of cars with a broom, and getting on with the rest of the recovery. The state had to break out the big guns – and in this case, the big guns were snowplows, which you can see from the ODOT Dayton Twitter feed:
"The sirens started going off at about 6:25 p.m. and we've been dealing with it ever since," Sherley said in a phone interview five hours after the tornado hit.
Video: Storms move east as more than 50 twisters are reported in 8 states
"We have downed power lines, multiple downed trees," he said. "It left a swath of damage across there."
Resident Mark Duffin, 48, told the Kansas City Star he learned from his wife that a tornado was headed toward their home. As the walls of his home began to come down, he grabbed his 13-year-old child and headed to the basement with a mattress to protect them.
But as rescue crews went to work extricating people from the ruins of their shattered homes, the Ohio Department of Transportation went to work immediately. Interstate 75 cuts right through Dayton, and the tornadoes crossed it as they swept through the northern part of the city:
"I'm just glad I found my two dogs alive," he told the newspaper as he later surveyed the damage to his home. "Wife's alive, family's alive, I'm alive. So, that's it."
Ohio Uses Snowplows to Clear Off Interstate After Night of Devastating Tornadoes
A large tornado — possibly the same one that affected the Linwood area — was reported at the western edge of Kansas City, home to 2.1 million people, near the Kansas Speedway and the popular Legends shopping and dining area.
As the tornado-warned storm continued to the northeast, Kansas City International Airport was evacuated and passengers were moved into the parking tunnels for their safety. The airport remained closed to flights until around midnight, as staff worked to clear large amounts of debris that fell onto airport runways.
In a tweet late Tuesday, the airport said that crews were working "feverishly" to clear the runways and airfield of "thousands of pieces" of debris over millions of square feet. "One piece in an engine can be catastrophic. Safety first," said the tweet.
Hidden by rain, tornado tore damage path of 40 or 50 miles in Kansas; 2nd hit Missouri
At least a dozen people were admitted to the hospital in Lawrence, 40 miles west of downtown Kansas City, Missouri, the Associated Press reported.
An apparent tornado from the same storm produced tree and roof damage in the Excelsior Springs area northeast of Kansas City, according to reports from Clay County law enforcement officers.
There were several tornado warnings and reports of tornadoes in the Lawrence area. Damage was reported to several buildings in Pleasant Grove and other areas south of Lawrence in Douglas County.
Tornadoes And Floods Ravage Nations Heartland
Tornado warnings Tuesday night were issued as far east as New York City in what has become the most active stretch for tornadoes in the U.S. in eight years.
Tornadoes Head East After Ripping Through Kansas, Ohio
The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for 10 New Jersey counties as severe thunderstorms sweep through the area. The watch expires at 10 p.m.
Debris From Linwood Tornado Shuts Down Kansas City International Airport
The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for 10 New Jersey counties, saying conditions are ripe for the development of isolated tornadoes as strong thunderstorms sweep through the state Tuesday evening and into the night.
1 dead, 130 injured as tornadoes rip through Ohio and Indiana
The tornado watch is in effect until 10 p.m. and covers Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer and Warren counties. Nearly all of Pennsylvania is also included in the watch.
Update 5:45 p.m.: The tornado watch has been expanded to include four more counties in New Jersey: Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Salem.
Although a watch is not as urgent as a warning, the weather service says atmospheric conditions are conducive for small tornadoes to form. If any funnel clouds are spotted, or if forecasters notice rotating winds on weather radar, the watch will likely be upgraded to a tornado warning.
3rd Wettest Year To Date at MSP – 500+ Tornadoes Last 30 Days Across USA – Close Call for Kansas City
The National Weather Service's updated map at 10:30 a.m. expanded the area for an enhanced risk of storms into New Jersey on Tuesday, May 28.
— Go to your basement and hide under something sturdy, like a work bench or a heavy table, or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag.
3 Western Ohio Tornadoes Kill 1, Destroy Neighborhoods
— If there is no basement in your home, go to the lowest floor, a small center room like a bathroom or closet, under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows.
— Go to an enclosed area in the center of the building and stay as low as possible, away from glass.
Tornadoes rip through Kansas after one killed, scores hurt by Ohio twisters
Len Melisurgo may be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @LensReality or like him on Facebook. Find NJ.com on Facebook.