The Norman Transcript

July 27, 2013

Heavy rain leaves city under the weather — and under the water

By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — A fast-moving storm dumped several inches of rain throughout central Oklahoma early Friday, stalling cars, swamping streets and setting an eastside Norman home on fire. By afternoon, the Norman Fire Department had performed a dozen rescues and found themselves calling for mutual aid because a boat was needed for one rescue on Franklin Road.

“We are having flood warnings and flash flood warnings today. It is late July. Does anyone else find that odd?” said John Harrington, Water Resources director with the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments.

Several accidents and a house fire were blamed on the weather. Police reported home flooding in low-lying areas. Debris-clogged storm drains were being reported throughout the city.

By noon on Friday, Norman had received 4.0 inches of rain during a 24-hour period according to the Mesonet. The heaviest rain was reported between 5 and 7 a.m.

Deputy Fire Chief Jim Bailey said 24 firefighters responded to a two-story house fire at 6305 Crooked Oak Drive around 1:30 a.m. Friday. He said the family living there was able to escape the fire but damage was extensive on the home’s second floor.

“Lightning hit the top story of the home and pretty much burned the entire second story off,” Bailey said. He had no official estimate of damage.

Crews remained on scene until 7 a.m. and returned later when the fire rekindled.

Around noon, a woman trapped in high water on Franklin Road had to be retrieved by boat. Despite high-water barricades, the motorist drove her small, four-door car through high waters. Her car stalled about 100 yards west of the intersection at Northeast 24th Avenue and Franklin Road.

The deep, swift water called for a boat, and Norman Fire put out a mutual aid call to Moore Fire Department for help. Moore has a rubber boat and assisted in retrieving the woman from her swamped car.

Sunday night through Monday morning there’s a 30 to 40 percent chance of more rain, said Ryan Barnes, National Weather forecaster.

The normal annual rainfall for Oklahoma city is 32.76 inches. So far in 2013, Oklahoma City has received 40.47 inches, Barnes said. Norman trailed Oklahoma City in rainfall during June by about 10 inches during that month.

The record annual rainfall for Oklahoma City is 56.93 inches in 2007.

“The groundwater levels are maintaining and even Canton Lake is showing a small increase over the past two weeks,” Harrington said. “We are finally getting some rain on the left side of Oklahoma, although the Panhandle is still not joining the party quite yet.”

In Norman, Lake Thunderbird has recovered and water was released from the spillway as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prepared for each incoming weather event. Currently the lake levels are over two feet above the conservation pool. The flood pool is nearly 25 percent full.

Joy Hampton