Tornadoes hit OKC metro and western, central OK
Negligible local damage reported
As the National Weather Service works to survey the aftermath of tornadoes that struck western and central Oklahoma, emergency crews in the Oklahoma City metro reported negligible damage on Wednesday.
Tuesday night, tornadoes hit the towns of Frederick in Tillman County and Clinton in Custer and Washita counties.
“The ones Tuesday night for sure are confirmed,” said Bruce Thoren, meteorologist with the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Norman. “There’s pictures of the clouds and damage. One started around Frederick and ended up to the west of Lawton’s area, I think, is when it finally stopped. The other began around Clinton and Arapaho, but those two (areas) definitely had tornadoes.”
A weaker line of severe storms made its way over to central Oklahoma Wednesday morning, arriving at about 5 a.m.
“In Oklahoma, you just have to stay weather aware.”
Public information office chief for the Oklahoma City Fire Department
“There’s still people out looking at the storms that happened this morning,” Thoren said late Wednesday. “I think almost certainly they’ll be called tornadoes, but the exact rating and the pathways I think are still being ironed out.”
Whether that central Oklahoma storm system was one tornado that touched down three different times, or smaller individual tornadoes that hit three locations, is also being evaluated. “Quasi-Linear Convective Systems,” as this system is being categorized, are surrounded by heavy rain, making it difficult to see them, especially in darkness.
Police Capt. Frank Barnes, director of Oklahoma City’s Office of Emergency Management, said the city activated its multiagency coordination center two hours before severe weather hit.
“We know a tornado impacted southwest Oklahoma City, just north of the city of Mustang,” Barnes said. “It appears that it spun up and touched down in at least three different places, and in each location, it did some damage to some homes.”
No homes were destroyed, but four homes had major roof damage, while eight others were dealt lesser damage.
“There’s actually two separate tornado tracks that we were given by the National Weather Service,” Barnes said. “One was here in southwest Oklahoma City, north of Mustang in Canadian County. And then there was a second, longer track that began around Interstate-40 in Mustang, somewhere around that area, that tracks through the northeast through Oklahoma City and dissipated somewhere on the east side of OKC.”
Downed power lines and broken tree limbs were reported along both tracks, but at the peak of the storms, about 660 customers with Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. lost power.
A couple of locations also saw localized street flooding, to which Barnes said the office is accustomed after heavy rainfall and runoff. Overall, however, he said he considered the damage “negligible.”
“In the scheme of things, that’s not much,” Barnes said. “We’ve had much worse events.”
Meteorologists forecast the chance of additional severe weather for Oklahoma as Hurricane Pamela in the Gulf of Mexico makes landfall and remnants of the tropical cyclone move further inland.
“The main impact would be in flooding Wednesday night,” Thoren said. “The tropical storm is just adding moisture, a lot of deep tropical moisture due to the influence of the remnants of that storm.”
But the major concern would be for southeastern Oklahoma, not the central area.
Benny Fulkerson, public information office chief for the Oklahoma City Fire Department, said the department responded to no storm-related calls overnight.
“In Oklahoma, you just have to stay weather aware,” Fulkerson said.
In case flooding from remnants of Hurricane Pamela does impact Oklahoma City, the fire department offered these safety tips:
h Do not drive into high water, even if the area is familiar. The conditions of the pavement underneath will not be visible, and rushing water is powerful enough to peel away asphalt and manhole covers, and can result in a loss of traction.
h Do not touch metal surfaces near or drive over downed power lines. High winds during severe weather can often result in downed power lines.
h Do not operate power generators inside an enclosed space. Power generators are useful in case of an electrical outage during a severe weather event, but they must be run outdoors. The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from operating one indoors is high, and Oklahoma City sees deaths every year during the winter months due to improper handling of the generators.