At least 11 dead in Bowling Green after overnight tornado

NWS: EF3 tornado damage found
bowling green damage 1.jpg
Posted at 9:35 AM, Dec 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-11 19:15:11-05

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WTVF) — Eleven people in Warren County, Kentucky have died after a tornado ripped through the area, Warren County Coroner Kevin Kirby confirmed.

The National Weather Service said survey teams have found EF3 tornado damage in the Bowling Green area on Saturday. The tornado had estimated wind speeds of 150 mph.

Sky5 flies over Bowling Green, Kentucky.

NWS said the damage assessment is still ongoing. Severe storms moved through the state on Friday night and caused catastrophic damage. Gov. Andy Beshear said one tornado stayed on the ground for 227 miles.

In a press conference Saturday afternoon, Beshear said 500 homes and 100 businesses in Warren County destroyed.

Photos: Damage across Middle Tennessee, Southern Kentucky in severe December storms

Early Saturday morning, Warren County Sheriff said residents in need of shelter are being directed to South Warren High School.

Western Kentucky University canceled its commencement ceremonies that were scheduled for Saturday, December 11 after severe storms ripped through Bowling Green overnight.

"Kacy and I offer our heartfelt condolences and prayers to the young man’s family and friends, and to all the families in our broader community who have been so affected by the devastation of last night’s storms. Students, if you have not yet made contact with your loved ones, please take a moment to let them know you are OK," said WKU President Timothy C. Caboni in a statement.

Caboni said staff is working to assess the damage, restore power, campus networks and phone lines on Saturday morning.

"In the coming days and weeks, we will repair any damage and clear debris. But the significance of this event will remain with us forever," Caboni said.

WKU said no injuries or fatalities were reported among the residential students. One person in an off-campus residence in Bowling Green died in the storms overnight. WKU said the man was a close relative of a WKU student.

Editor's note: WKU originally said the person who died was a student set to graduate on Saturday. Later in the morning, the university issued a statement clarifying the person who died was not a student.