Confirmed tornado tally nears 60 from weekend storms

Story highlights

Confirmed tornadoes are expected to be around 75

All of the storm deaths were in Oklahoma

Advance warnings are credited with preventing more fatalities

CNN  — 

The National Weather Service has confirmed 59 tornadoes from a weekend outbreak of storms that killed six people.

“The Storm Prediction Center estimates the total will be around 75 when all surveys are complete,” the weather service website said.

There were initial reports of 135 tornadoes – spread across Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma – from the sprawling storm system that ripped across the Plains and Midwest on Saturday. A much smaller outbreak was reported Sunday.

At the time, the weather service said a final confirmed count would only come after officials had a chance to fan out across the states and determine how many of the reports were indeed tornadoes.

All of the fatalities were in Woodward, Oklahoma, a community of about 12,000 people, about 85 miles west of Enid. At least 29 people were injured, officials said.

The weather service said the town was hit by an EF-3 tornado, packing winds of up to 165 mph. It destroyed 89 homes and 12 businesses, according to City Manager Alan Riffel.

Officials credited early warning systems elsewhere in the region with preventing more fatalities.

Advisories from the system were issued two days in advance, rather than just hours, and were “remarkably accurate,” said Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. “People took it very seriously.”

CNN’s Rob Marciano reported from Oklahoma and Maria P. White from Atlanta.