tv CNN Newsroom Live CNN December 11, 2021 2:00am-3:00am PST
. this is cnn breaking news. hello and welcome to all of you watching us here in the united states, canada and all around the world. i'm kim brunhuber. i want to get to our breaking news right now. a powerful storm system is working its way through the central u.s. millions are at risk, more than 200,000 homes and businesses are without power. at least 24 tornadoes have already been reported across five states. middle tennessee now the latest area to issue a tornado warning. the main threat just moving past downtown nashville in the last
few minutes. and in western kentucky scenes of destruction are beginning to emerge. the governor says more than 50 deaths are likely from the storm. he's expected to hold a news conference any moment. and we'll bring it to you you when it happens. meanwhile in arkansas at least two people have been killed. one at a dollar general store. and another at a nursing home where 20 others were rescued. and in illinois, emergency crews are searching for people feared trapped inside a damaged amazon warehouse. some family members of those who worked there waiting on word from loved ones. >> yeah. it was lightning bad. you know, we lost power for about two hours now. and then my phone died. so i have no idea to get ahold of them. i have idea what's going on. we're just worried sick. we just want to know if he's okay. >> all right. let's bring in meteorologist derek van dam. derek, let's get right to it. what's the latest? >> all right. these are the nights as a
meteorologist you that don't forget, etched in my memory. we have a lines of storms across the tennessee river valley just each of the nashville region. we've seen the numbers go up over the course of the period likely to see that. 26 on average in the entire month of december. we see 23 across the united states in just 12 hours we've surpassed that. here's the latest watches. you can see them stretching from cincinnati, through nashville, southward towards northern alabama and into mississippi. this area in particular is a region of concern at the most immediate moment. nashville in the clear, as we said just a moment ago. this line of thunderstorms have been known to provide tornadoes and straight line winds in excess of 60 to 70 miles per hour. there are currently tornado warnings north and east of nashville. those came through about 4:15 central standard time. roughly another 15 minutes or so. that includes counties of macon,
sumner and wilson. as these storms continue to press eastward. we've seen the superstorm thunderstorms tower over 40,000 feet, projecting debris high in the sky. several thousand feet according to reports. nursing home reported in monnette, arkansas, that was earlier in the evening when a ban of thunderstorms originally developed. i'm showing you the before and after imagery coming out of mayfield, kentucky. one of the areas we know hit particularly hard. this is downtown, one of the governmental buildings there completely destroyed or at least partially destroyed, i should say, by this powerful, powerful tornado. and this is the same tornado that moved through arkansas. so we believe this could potentially be the united states' first quad-state tornado. that traveled across arkansas, parts of missouri, tennessee and kentucky, traversing over 250 miles. if verified that will be the
longest single-track tornado in u.s. history. that dates back to the tristate tornado back in 1925. so where is this threat going? well, we've got a computer model that takes into consideration all of the current elements within the atmosphere. and we believe that the tornado threat will begin to diminish in the coming hours. in the next three to six hours, things will improve. but we still have the severe lines of strong winds pressing through portions of tennessee and kentucky. you can see the storm prediction center highlighting this area. remember, we had a level four out of five earlier in the evening in the overnight hours. again, the chance of tornado threat, diminishing as the hours progress. which is good news the straight line will be the next major concern. incredible to see what we've witnessed here. 23 tornados in the month of december, most of those, tennessee and kentucky occur at night. these are known as nocturnal tornadoes, kim. they're particularly dangerous
because they're shrouded in darkness, they often catch people off guards. you'll want to have your phone unmuted and continue to receive the warnings from the national weather service as the storm progresses eastward. kim. >> all right. thank you, derek van dam. we're going now live to kentucky's governor who is bribrif i giving a briefing. let's listen in. >> -- damage in over a dozen kentucky counties. the primary tornado was on the ground almost continuously for over 200 miles in our state. something we have never seen before. we have deaths in multiple, possibly, many counties. the hardest hit county appears to be grays, where the city of mayfield has been devastated. a roof collapse at a candle factory has resulted in mass
casualties. as of 4:45 a.m., 56,854 kentuckians are without power. i've been personally is he operations center since 1:00 a.m., receiving the response and hearing and receiving the difficult news in realtime. i've been in personal contact with local leaders such as the mayor of mayfield, county judges in grays and marshall county. talking to emergency management in the hardest hit areas. before midnight i declared a state of emergency. now, i've activated the national guard, we're deploying 181 guardsmen, including search and extraction, and debris clearance folks. they'll be arriving in communities this morning. the transportation cabinet has mobilized its heavy equipment to
help clear debris. they'll about sibe assisted by d and forestry. the state commission has been working all night to save lives. another emt and fire professionals are on the way. i've also requested an immediate emergency declaration. and we've got two tractor trailers filled with water headed towards western kentucky. i want to thank every local ems employee, police officer, firefighter, and first responder. this has been one of the toughest nights in kentucky history, and some areas have been hit in ways that are hard to put into words. to all our kentucky families we want you to know we're here for you, we love you and are praying for. counties with debris as of 4:00
include fulton, hickman, grays, marshall, lion, caldwell, hawkins, milanburg, ohio, breckenridge, bullet, spencer, shelby, christian, logan, warren, edmundson, taylor and marion. as we're sitting here today, this is before day break, we believe our death toll from this event will exceed 50 kentuckians, probably end up closer to 70 to 100 lost lives, remember, each of these are children of god, irreplaceable to their families and to their communities. we will make it through this, we will rebuild. we are strong, resilient people. and we're going to be there every step of the way. i'm going to be in western kentucky a little later today, as soon as it is safe to travel.
make sure people that they are not alone. that this is one state, standing strong with those that have been impacted. i'm going to turn it over to michael dotson from emergency management. and we'll hear from the general as well. at the moment, it looks like we have to take questions by email. those instructions have gone out because of a technical difficulty. director dawson. >> thank you, governor. i can only echo the governor's comments. this tornado event may surpass the 1994 super outbreak as one of the deadliest in history. our hearts go out to all of the families in peril and all of the kentuckians who have lost their lives. i will tell you from speaking to
emergency management directors and judge executives, that rescue and search efforts are ongoing. even before the winds stop blowing as thunderstorms are going through, we had teams out there, local teams, so thank you for your efforts in all of the impacted counties. the track for this tornado event is over 200 miles just in kentucky. and it may eclipse the 1925 record, tristate track for the longest tornado. it appears that this is going to be a quad-state event. all out of the same system. originating in arkansas, through missouri, tennessee and into kentucky. it is a significant, massive disaster event. so as the governor indicated, all state resources are being brought to bear. we opened the eoc at 8:00 p.m. eastern time. and began receiving reports very
quickly. some of the most serious hit are actually out of communications in some parts. we've had a lot of people step up to the plate. one in particular, louisville metro emergency management services are currently on the highway in route to mayfield. and they will be there by daybreak. they're going to assist us with an imt -- an incident management team -- who will be at our full observation point. and as the governor indicated he has requested from the president an emergency declaration and that will include the assessment teams that will go out in the field in all of the damaged counties and what is called an imct -- incident management control team, we'll use that for the protracted event able to
request events from all counties simultaneously. again, we ask for your cooperation and your prayers for everyone that's impacted. we're doing damage assessments as they occur. reports through our em director. it will be daybreak before we even realize the full magnitude of this event. thank you, governor. good morning, everybody, i wants to give you a situational status of the guard. as the governor indicated we already mobilized a number of our guardsmen. this mobilization began shortly after midnight. so soldiers have been assembling for a few showers at this
junction. as the governor mentioned we have 181 soldiers and airmen who have responded to this incident. it does not stop with that number of service members. as everybody is tracking at this junction, this is an evolving situation. we still have a storm front passing through the state. and so as the situation continues to develop, we will call upon further members of the national guard, air national guard, to respond if necessary. in near term, grays county is the focus as the governor indicates because of the severe bassing through there. but we're literally watching the entire state at this junction. so as your neighbors and friends that are in the guard, you may see some of them in uniform this morning. you may see some of our folks in the national guard literally deploying down the road in response to some of these affected areas.
know that this is what their focus is. and they are here to serve you and the rest of our members in the commonwealth. thanks, sir. >> as we mentioned a number of counties hit hard, and we will have casual sties in multiple county. a place i dad is dr., dawson, i know there is loss there as well and we will be there to help. we've been able to get a couple of the slides that show a little bit of what we have seen booted up. this is from joe solullivan whos the meteorologist for emergency management. i'm going to try to walk through them. so, this is the front itself that we saw.
you can see how far and wide it went to the south, let's go to the next one, this shows you that we believe there are four likely tornadoes not just one, but four that hit in multiple places across kentucky. this is why there ultimately were so many counties that ultimately had so much damage. next one. this shows you what we believe will be the longest tornado touchdown in terms of distance in our history. you go all the way to the bottom, that's where it first touched down and stayed on that entire line, causing significant devastation. this is incredibly rare to see.
and it is one of the reasons that are this was owe devastating here in kentucky. i think we have one more -- a couple more. this shows you the different warnings. as it came through different areas that were hit. and hit hard. shows you just how severe this event was. and how widespread and how many different communities that it hit. and let's go -- this is the power outage map. as of 2:00 a.m., obviously, that's evolved. but 56,000 -- we gave the number before -- plus kentuckians without power. as you can see, western kentucky, hopkins countly, surrounding area hit very, very hard. and then as we move north, a lot of power outages. even throughout lexington,
louisville. and certainly, western kentucky. let's see, do we have one more? why don't you, james, just show the one with the dots. the county map with the dots. this shows you just one other way of showing where we've had damage. the reports have come in. for a tornado, for a tornado, to cause damage in these many counties. again, i think shows that it will be the single most severe, certainly, tornado event in our history. and i believe likely the most deadly. did i miss anything, michael? >> no, sir. >> okay. >> and we just received an update on power outages, they are climbing. >> yes. so the last bit of information to come in, the power outages are climbing. they're climbing significantly.
and daybreak is going to bring more tough news. we're going to learn about more loss of life at daybreak, more loss of structure. and we'll be getting reports that will include more power outages. now, we do believe that the system is going to break up in severity, at least, by daybreak. we should be significantly out of the woods at about 10:00 a.m., the entire system will be out of kentucky. so were we able to get questions sent in? i know this is imperfect, but i know this is the best in an emergency situation. okay. so, first, just trying to confirm the figure of more than 50,000 dead in kentucky. according to the governor. yes, i fear there are more than 50 dead in kentucky. confirmation on each individual is coming in, but we're going to
lose over 50 people. probably closer to somewhere between 70 and 100. it's -- it's devastating. let's see. the next one -- i had that one. joshua, will you -- great. from "the herald leader" can you describe how many separate tornadoes we've had and the general trajectories of each? so, james, can you put that slide back up. there are four tornadoes, one of which was the 200-mile tornado. keep going. it's one of the two weather pictures, i think -- there you go. so, those show you the four tornadoes, obviously, the longest one was the 227 -- 227-mile tornado, meaning it touched down and stayed down for that period of time.
and then you had two to the south of it, but very close together. and one to the north. so, those are the four. now, we had other severe weather in many parts of kentucky. and we will see damage from wind and other results of it. okay. next. what do you know about injuries and casualties in mayfield, at the manufacturing plant? that is tragic. this is a candle factory. there were about 110 people in it. at the time. that the tornado hit it. we believe we'll lose at least dozens of those individuals.
very hard. really tough. and we're praying for each and every one of those families. now, let's see, kentucky's most recent covid reports showed hospital capacity strained in far western kentucky. how are hospitals handling injuries? the hospitals are in good shape. they are responding well. one, we were concerned about power and other issues, they were transferring patients. but we are not concerned at the moment with hospital capacity. and certainly, we have other professionals coming to help. okay. we're good on live questions now. you want me to go through the list? all right. first, i think we have -- if i've answered your question already, kfbs-12, roger say.
>> governor, what can you tell us about the time line getting into mayfield, and the area in which western kentucky? >> can you ask it again, it was bad on the first part. >> sure. what is your time line for getting help and aid to the people in mayfield and fulton county and in western kentucky? >> all right. help is on the way right now. this morning, there are going to be national guard, the transportation cabinet, the division of forestry, they're going to see those trucks filled with water pull in. later today, they'll see teams of other first responders coming, especially, from louisville. they're going to see immediate action and help.
now, we always think about that next day, let's remember that folks are going to need help for months to come. i'll be in western kentucky later this morning. as soon as it is safe to travel. but we're going to be right there, with all of those officials with all of those officials we've been talking to to see the damage first hand and to make sure that people know that we care and that we're going to be there for them. carla ward, "herald leader." okay. let's try liam with wkms public radio. >> governor, do you know where -- governor, you can hear me? >> i can. >> do you know where specifically reports of injuries
and fatalities are coming from across the state, specifically, communities and counties, by chance? >> well, certainly, graves, i think we're going to see them in hopkins, warren, and then i think we will see several other counties, i will be surprised if we don't lose people in at least five or more counties, marshall also some fatalities reported to us. again, this is a widespread weather event. and i think that we're especially at daybreak going to see that number of counties and the number of people grow. alan watts, wkdz radio. all right. we'll move on to wdrb.
okay. how about ryan reynolds. all right. jack bramer. >> governor, what's the situation on emergency shelters and flooding? and do you feel like there was advance warning of such a catastrophic storm? >> id do believe thats there wa advanced warning, but this is a storm the likes of which we have never seen in terms what this tornado did. there are emergency shelters set up in multiple counties. the high school is being used as a primary shelter as well as an additional place where you can
get medical help in graves county. and i know that shelters are being is set up in other counties. of course, we are really good people in kentucky. most judges, county judges that i've talked to say that kinfolk have brought in most of those people. fulton county hit really hard. most everybody who has been displaced through the night is already staying with family. okay. wdrb. all right. well, we'll make sure they get that question answered if they send it to us. a really tough night. i'm on about two hours of sleep, admittedly can get through family that i have in this area. i know there are a lot of other people that are going through the same thing.
it's going to be all right. it's going to be hard. and there is a lot of loss. just like everything else we've been up against, we'll make it through this too. thank you all very much. >> all right. we were listening to kentucky governor andy brashear, outlining just how bad the storm was. the governor said the death toll is likely to reach as high as 70 to 100 people across five counties. he said there were multiple casualties at a candle factory in mayfield, kentucky. 110 people were working and he fears they could lose dozens of workers there. the governor said it was likely four tornadoes that hit the state. the big, 272 miles a historic storm in terms of the width of the area, affected the single biggest of its kind. and considering how deadly the governor said he'll be traveling
to western kentucky later today. and later, he said, they were sending national resources, water trucks with the guard. and to those affected. a historic storm in kentucky. the governor said the death toll could reach up to 100 people. they'll only know how bad this is one day breaks. all right. we'll be right back.
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multiple counties. he said there were multiple people in a candle factory, 110 people were working there. likely to solution dozens. the biggest storm to hit the state, 222-miles historic storm in terms of width of area affected, and we have storm chaser michael gordon -- actually, we're going to bring in derek van dam first to talk about what wille're seeing righ now in nashville. what's the latest? >> yeah, right. kim, what we're going to do, we're going to actually trace this all back to where this began. northeastern portions of arkansas in the monnette region. this nursing home was devastated by the long-track torn you that just mentioned. kentucky governor describing what would potentially be, if verified, the longest sing tral tornados in u.s. history. eclinting the 1925 tristate
tornado. this tornado which occurred in the last few hours actually moved to four separate states, arkansas, missouri, tennessee and kentucky. let me take you to mayfield. this is what one of the government buildings downtown looked like before the tornado moved through. mind you, this is the same long-track tornado that originated in arkansas. you can see the devastation left in the area. you see the images of the candle factory. let me break it down to show you north of jonesboro in northern eastern sections of arkansas. that's the cell. follow it through missouri, western sections tennessee to kentucky. if you trace that on the computer it actually measures 228 miles. that needs to be verified by the national weather service. but the 1925 tristate tornado was about 215 miles. again, we're eclipsing records never before seen in the united states. and unfortunately, that has led to casualties, dozens of
casualties now confirmed by the kentucky mayor. we have 26 confirmed tornadoes so far out of this super outbreak that's occurred over the south-central portions of the united states. i can beaarely keep up with thi graphic, because the numbers continue to increase as the minutes and hours wear on. we typically only see in the entire month of december 23 tornadoes. that's for an entire month. think about it like this in 12 hours or less, we have already received 26 tornadoes and the threat continues overnight. although the line of thunderstorms are weakening and the threat of tornadoes continues to diminish, as we get to early morning hours across the area. still, tornado watches highlighted in red throughout the region. here's nashville, we wanted to start with that, kim. you can see that line of thunderstorms has pressed each through nashville. nonetheless, gusty winds still for central and eastern sections of tennessee and kentucky. back to you.
>> the governor calling it the most severe tornado event in kentucky history. really devastating, and we'll keep following the story throughout the morning. derek van dam, thanks so much. all right. still to come, we'll have more on that breaking news as we follow the deadly storm system making its way through parts of the u.s. we'll have the latest from a storm chaser coming up. please do stay with us. ♪ you pour your heart into everything you do, which is a lot. so take care of that heart with lipton. because sippin' on unsweetened lipton can help support a healthy heart. lipton. stop chuggin'. start sippin'. ♪"you are the reason" by calum scott♪ to all the kisses... ...that led... ...to this one. celebrate every kiss, with kay.
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tornados from a storm threatening millions across the central u.s. at least 26 tornadoes have already been reported across five states. officials in kentucky say they're dealing with a, quote, massive disaster event. the governor called it devastating. that as many as 70 to 100 people are feared dead. the storms have also claimed the lives of at least two people in arkansas. one person was killed when a nursing home was hit. another one, when a dollar general store was hit. and a new tornado watch has just been posted for portions of eastern tennessee, northern eastern mississippi, northern alabama and stretching as far north as ohio. all right. let's bring in storm chaser michael gordon who joins us from mayfield, kentucky. thanks for being with us. it sounds as if mayfield might have been the hardest hit. you saw the tornado up close. describe what you saw and felt? >> it's almost unexplainable.
but when i saw the tornado from the front side, it didn't look, you know -- from radar, it looked pretty large. until it passed me. and i felt the forces. as i was only probably a quarter mile, half mile, away. you could feel the suction that as i opened up my window that was sucking the air out of my truck. up into the sky. that tornado, it looked ten times larger, once it passed me. all i was thinking was, hoping that it was not going through a large city. all the debris being thrown around, being sucked up, i had
sheet metal flying across the interstate. there were water fowl, ducks, i had ducks fly by my truck. it was something like i said that's unexplainable. very heart-wrenching, something that you don't want to see. if that explains it. >> yeah. no, absolutely. i mean, heart-wrenching, especially when you learn how many people may have lost their lives in this. and the damage, pictures that we see are just devastating. i mean, what did you see in terms of the damage as this was passing by and sort of afterwards? >> so, now, after -- after i caught that tornado, i followed it up. and now i'm in mayfield, kentucky. i'm actually across the parking lot from the candle factory.
where ems is here, a bunch of first responders. there's a lot -- there's excavators. i think the rental companies have brought in a bunch of light plants. they are digging, going up into the rubble of the candle factory. from what i could tell, the whole roof completely collapsed. when i look at it from where i'm at right now s, it's pretty muc flat on the ground. in terms of other debris, it's pretty devastating. anywhere you look, there is roofing material hanging from power lines. power lines all over -- they're wrapped around homes. wrapped around cars. cars thrown up into trees. i mean, it just -- it looks like
a complete war zone. that's -- that's -- i mean, when you drive -- there isn't one thing that isn't damaged. that's the thing, it's not like it's a hit or miss. it's like i said, it's a bulldozer that went through the center of town and pretty much took everything with it. in the morning, times's -- once the light comes up, the damage is going to be a lot more significant than what you're seeing right now. i mean there's -- the weather, the rain, has calmed down, of course. so, they've got a lot of the roads cleared out. i mean, everybody around here
has a chain saw. all of the helpers, volunteers, everybody's helping -- i mean, that's what i seen when i got here. everyone was out helping, searching homes. doing whatever they could do to help. i think this is going to be a -- it is a team effort here. and it's showing. i haven't seen some of the other large storms like this, i haven't seen this much, i guess, on-time arrival of personnel, ems. i mean, it was fast. i mean, we're not just talk -- we're not just talking a few sheriffs, you know. we're talking over 150, 200 police cars i've seen. you know, i just had eight ambulances drive by me. >> well, the governor has certainly said that they're
sending in emergency personnel, national guard being sent in as well. but he echoed what you said, which was the extent of the damage here won't be apparent until daybreak. and then they can really assess how truly bad and historic this was. listen, we'll have to leave it there. but thank you so much, michael gordon, for sharing your experiences there. really appreciate it. >> thank you. all right. coming up, a live report from liverpool, england, where g7 diplomats are meeting this weekend to discuss the urgent situation in ukraine. stay with us. because sippin' on unsweetened lipton can help support a healthy heart. lipton. stop chuggin'. start sippin'.
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back now to our breaking news, the devastating tornadoes impacting five states across the central u.s. at least 26 tornadoes have already been reported. kentucky appears to be the hardest hit, with the governor calling it the most severe tornado event in the state's history. as many as 70 to 100 people are feared dead. a candle factory in mayfield, in the western part of the state, collapsed with dozens of workers inside. the storms have also claimed the lives of at least two people in arkansas. one person was killed at a nursing home when it was hit. another when a dollar general store was hit. and in illinois, fatalities have
been confirmed in an amazon warehouse damaged by the storm, though, no official figure has been given. emergency crews have been on scene all night for people trapped inside. and tornado watches are still posted for louisiana all the way north to ohio. all right. that wraps this hour of "cnn newsroom." i'm kim brunhuber. "cnn new day weekend" is here. for those here in the u.s. and canada. for those watching internationally "connecting africa" is next.
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♪ >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. good morning and welcome to your "new day." it's saturday, december 11th, i'm boris sanchez. >> i'm amara walker in for christi paul. we're following breaking news this morning. a dangerous and deadly night across the central united states. a powerful line of storms unleashing at least 24 tornadoes across five states, killing at least two people. that number, though, amara, expected to increase. >> this is all that is left of a candle factory. more than 100 people were