Western Kentucky tornado categorized as EF4, National Weather Service says

Dawson Springs, Kentucky
Posted at 4:20 PM, Dec 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 17:53:32-05

KENTUCKY (WTVF) — The National Weather Service declared the tornado that ripped through Western Kentucky an EF4 tornado.

This report from the NWS Paducah office comes after several days surveying the damage, the weather entity said in its report.

An EF4 tornado ranges from 166 to 200 mph. The weather service said this tornado peaked at 190 mph and went 128 miles with a path width of a mile.

The tornado started at 8:56 p.m. and ended at 11:10 p.m. The heaviest hit places in its track were Cayce, Mayfield, north of Benton, south Princeton, Dawson Springs, Barnsley, Bremen and possibly others, the NWS said.

The severe storms, which blew through the region on Friday evening and Saturday morning, are confirmed to have killed at least 88 people. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear says 74 of those fatalities occurred in his state, with victims ranging from 2 months to 98 years old.

Officials fear the number of deaths will continue to rise as rescue and recovery efforts continue. Beshear said Tuesday that there are "unquestionably" more than 100 people still missing.

The storms leveled entire communities and neighbors, with Beshear estimating that 1,000 homes in Kentucky were destroyed. Hundreds of people affected by the storms are currently seeking refuge in temporary housing in state parks.