The Norman Transcript

August 11, 2011

1 death in Okla. storms

Associated Press
The Associated Press

LOCUST GROVE — A tornado packing winds of more than 110 mph that spun through Oklahoma, leaving one person dead and thousands without power, was part of a system that also included severe thunderstorms and caused widespread damage, authorities said Wednesday.

The deadly tornado had a preliminary rating of EF-2, said meteorologist Joe Sellers of the National Weather Service in Tulsa . EF-2 tornadoes have winds between 111 mph and 135 mph.

Severe thunderstorm warnings were issued between 3:20 a.m. and 4 a.m. Wednesday for Mayes County, where the fatal victim’s mobile home was destroyed, but Sellers said no tornado warning was in effect.

“We do have several injuries, mostly minor, but one home was completely destroyed and we do have one fatality,” Emergency Management Director Johnny Janzen said. The victim was identified as Beverly Reed, 82, Janzen said.

Meteorologist Pete Snyder said it’s possible for a tornado to form this month.

“It wouldn’t be that unusual, really. It wouldn’t be the type that we see in the springtime, the strength that we see. It would be a small tornado that would spin up in front of a gust front.”

Elsewhere, three people were hurt and homes and businesses were damaged when a severe thunderstorm moved through Allen in Hughes County, authorities said.

The three were taken to an Ada hospital for treatment, but their injuries weren’t believed to be serious, Allen Police Chief Eric Holcomb said.

Strong winds smashed windows in other homes, and blew out the doors of the fire station and businesses at an industrial complex, Holcomb said. A gas station awning also was destroyed.

Hughes County Emergency Management Director John Roberts said strong winds tore the roofs off a home and a barn and snapped at least five power poles. Roberts said he believes a downburst, or a downdraft of wind and rain, caused the damage.

In the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond, a severe storm knocked trees onto some homes and vehicles, but there were no reports of injuries.

The storm damaged the roof of a movie theater and damaged trees at Kickingbird Golf Course, City of Edmond spokeswoman Ashleigh Clark said.

The storm also broke numerous power poles, Clark said, leaving about 10,000 customers without electricity. Clark said that number had dwindled to about 200 by Wednesday afternoon.

Damage also was reported to a high school in Collinsville and to an automobile dealership in Tulsa.

Just more than 6,100 Oklahoma Gas and Electric customers remained without power Wednesday evening, the utility reported on its website. According to Public Service Company of Oklahoma, 2,274 customers were without electricity.

Storms late Monday and early Tuesday also knocked out power to thousands across the state and injured a man in Oklahoma City when he was hit by awning blown off a roof.

The storms, though deadly and destructive, have brought welcome rain to a state plagued by a relentless heat wave and lingering drought.