A tornado has torn homes and businesses apart in a densely populated area of Dallas, and four people were killed in Arkansas and Oklahoma as a late-night series of storms caused chaos in several states.

Radar confirmed the tornado struck near Dallas Love Field Airport on Sunday evening, said National Weather Service meteorologist Jason Godwin.

There were no reports of fatalities or serious injuries in Texas on Monday, but fire and rescue service spokesman Jason Evans said three people were taken to hospital for evaluation of injuries that were not life-threatening.

Tens of thousands of people were left without electricity. Dallas Love Field spokesman Chris Perry said the airport was not damaged in the storm.

The tornado in Rockwall, Texas
The tornado in Rockwall, Texas (@AthenaRising via AP)

Tornado warnings were in effect on Monday in far eastern Arkansas, near the Mississippi River, as the storm system moved to the east. The Storm Prediction Centre in Norman, Oklahoma, said areas of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee could see severe thunderstorms.

Dallas-based radio station KNON-FM went off the air when the studio suffered major damage from the tornado. Presenter Lew Morris said the power went out first, followed by the “distinctive whistle” of a tornado within three minutes.

He and another radio show host sheltered in a toilet.

“We then heard the building shaking and could hear the glass windows shattering everywhere along with debris banging around. We waited until all the noise died down,” Mr Morris said. “We walked out to see the studio he was just broadcasting from destroyed.”

Addressing a news conference on Monday morning, Dallas mayor Eric Johnson said the city was lucky this time.

“I think we should consider ourselves very fortunate that we did not lose any lives — no fatalities and no serious injuries — in last night’s storms. I think we should all be very grateful for that,” he said.

October tornadoes are not common, and cities are rarely hit, according to Harold Brooks of the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma.

NWS meteorologist Jennifer Dunn said there may have been two or more tornadoes in north Texas but the extent would not be known until later when crews have surveyed the damage.

Dallas Fire-Rescue said one of its stations sustained significant damage during the storms overnight, posting photos on Twitter that show a collapsed roof and debris.

The storm disrupted flights in north Texas and north-west Arkansas. According to Flightaware.com, 63 flights were delayed and 18 cancelled at Dallas Love Field on Monday, while 78 were cancelled at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and more than 200 were delayed.

In north-west Arkansas, one person died when a tree fell on a home in Rogers, about 150 miles north west of Little Rock, according to Benton County Department of Public Safety.

Power was out at the nearby Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport in Highfill. The airport said it cancelled 17 flights on Monday and about a dozen were delayed.

Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson said “significant storm damage” occurred in that part of the state.

Damage was also reported in the north-east corner of Arkansas in the town of Tyronza, where five people were reported injured, Jonesboro TV station KAIT reported.

Authorities said severe thunderstorms were responsible for the deaths of three people in eastern Oklahoma.

Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Brooke Arbeitman said two teenage boys died of carbon monoxide poisoning in Weleetka, about 80 miles east of Oklahoma City.

She said the 14 and 15-year-old boys were using a portable gas generator in a travel trailer after the storms knocked out power in the area.

Another person died late on Sunday when a tree was blown onto a mobile home near Valliant, about 170 miles south east of Oklahoma City, emergency management officials said.