A massive tornado ripped through Kentucky for more than 200 miles. Here's its path
The largest and most devastating of the five tornadoes that ripped into Kentucky overnight Saturday tore through hundreds of miles and multiple states.
The storm originated in Arkansas, according to Kentucky Division of Emergency Management director Michael Dossett, and touched down in Missouri and Tennessee before making its way into the Bluegrass State, where it ripped through the western half of the state before finally weakening in central Kentucky.
Seventy-six people have been confirmed dead, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has said.
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Where did the tornado hit in Kentucky?
In Kentucky, it struck Mayfield directly before moving northeast through Benton, Princeton and Beaver Dam before weakening in Breckinridge County. Its path stretched more than 220 miles, Beshear said at a 5 a.m. press conference covering the devastation.
Mayfield was hit hard. More than 100 people were working at a candle manufacturing plant during the storm, Beshear said, and a roof collapse at the facility resulted in "mass casualties."
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Bowling Green, the home of Western Kentucky University, also saw extensive damage — the school canceled commencement ceremonies scheduled for Saturday in the aftermath of the storm.
Three other tornadoes were reported in Kentucky overnight, though those storms are believed to have been smaller than the one that hit Mayfield. All four tornadoes touched down in Western Kentucky.
Even counties that weren't hit by tornadoes were impacted by storms. More than 12,300 Louisville Gas & Electric customers were without power as of 8:30 p.m., according to LG&E's power map.
What category tornado hit Kentucky?
For the category of the biggest tornado, the National Weather Service office in Paducah tweeted Saturday it would likely "take some time to make a determination on intensity / rating."
But the weather service initially said damage appeared to be consistent with an F3 tornado capable of producing winds as strong as 206 mph.
The Paducah office also said an aerial assessment of damage appeared to show an "historic long track tornado" that was at least three-quarters of a mile wide in Kentucky as it went from southwest of Cayce in Fulton County to at least Beaver Dam in Ohio County.
The storm traveled over 220 miles from Arkansas into Kentucky.
On Thursday, the National Weather Service tweeted that the portion of the tornado that traveled through through Western Kentucky was given a preliminary damage rating of EF4.
What county is Mayfield, KY in?
Mayfield is south of Paducah, a town in Western Kentucky with an estimated population of about 25,000 people. Mayfield, with a population of about 10,000, is in Graves County, which borders Tennessee.
"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," Beshear said.
Lucas Aulbach can be reached at email@example.com, 502-582-4649 or on Twitter @LucasAulbach.