As a severe weather outbreak stretched across the central and southern Plains Wednesday night, the Storm Prediction Center recorded 50 preliminary reports of tornadoes.
The worst of the storms were centered on Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma Thursday evening.
The National Weather Service warned that some of the tornadoes were difficult to see and that people "shouldn't even try;" instead they urged those in nearby areas to take shelter immediately.
"Many of the storms that formed Wednesday were known as high-precipitation supercells," AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Ben Noll said.
"Such storms contain very heavy rain that can hide tornadoes from clear view. Also, several tornadoes contained multiple vortices and touched down and lifted back up above the ground frequently, making it difficult to spot the classic tornado structure," he said.
@JayPraterCBM @KWCH12 @NWSWichita Near Mt Hope KS just now!!!! pic.twitter.com/Bmz8mS3ut0— Dianna Lantz-Power ღ (@oumomof5) May 6, 2015
Damage to homes and businesses across Nebraska and Oklahoma was extensive. More than a dozen people have reportedly sustained injuries.
In Tuttle, Oklahoma, a tornado touched at Tiger Safari, an exotic wildlife refuge. The owners of the zoological park confirmed that some exotic animals were on the loose and asked residents in the area to stay inside. As of 10:00 p.m. CT, the Grady County Sheriff's Office that all animals had been accounted for.
Drenching downpours brought flash flooding to several cities including Lincoln, Nebraska, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Large #tornado near Sedgwick, KS today, 4:57P CDT. Hwy 96 looking north. @NWSWichita @NatGeoCreative @NikonUSA pic.twitter.com/uCLVWLAzBx— Jim Reed (@jimreedphoto) May 7, 2015
Seven inches of rain fell in a span of seven hours, marking the first time a flash flood emergency was ever declared for Oklahoma City.
Severe storms are forecast to ignite across the Plains through the weekend, with Saturday likely bringing the most potent severe weather threat so far this year.