By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Norman received around 2 inches of rain over the last 24 hours and more rain could be on the way early next week.
“Here at the Weather Center we got 1.87 inches,”said Matthew Day, National Weather Service meteorologist. “We got 2.35 inches at the Norman Mesonet located at Westheimer Airport.”
Day said there is a possibility of more rain in the forecast.
“It looks like we have another cold front moving in early on Monday and we’ll probably have the rain chances early Monday into Tuesday,” Day said.
Norman missed the most damaging parts of the storm that hit Oklahoma. Southwest Oklahoma had hail and high winds, Day said.
“We got a couple of gusts from 60 or 70 mile an hour wind gusts,”Day said, but none of those reports were from Norman. “There was a wind report seven miles south of Choctaw and in Lexington.”
“We had some high winds, we had some limbs down and we had flash floods,”said District 3 County Commissioner Rusty Sullivan. “We had some crews out last night.”
Sullivan said his crews are cleaning debris out of ditches today.
“This was basically straight-lined winds, is what I understand,”Sullivan said. “And a lot of rain in a short amount of time.”
Sullivan said he knows of no significant damage in the Lexington area.
Despite the tornado siren sounding around 9 p.m. Wednesday, Norman has no reports of a tornado within city limits.
“The sirens are activated and the goal is to give you a lead time for when the tornado would happen,”said Norman Fire Chief James Fullingim. “They are activated based on a credible report of a tornado forming or sighting or a tornado warning issued by the National Weather Service.
“When those sirens are activated, that does not mean there has been a tornado warning and it does not mean there is a tornado.
“It means we have a reasonable expectation that a tornado could develop. If you are outside, you should take shelter and seek further information.”
Only minor damage, such as a few power poles snapped at the airport, were reported.
“My feeling is that was due to straight line winds,”Fullingim said.
Cleveland County residents appear to have fared well in the storm.
“There are no reports of any damage in the county area,”said Cleveland County Emergency Manager George Mauldin.
Lake levels continue to rise. The current level of Lake Thunderbird’s conservation pool is 1034 feet, five feet below normal. That’s a strong improvement over last week said Utilities Director Ken Komiske.
Hard, fast rains increase the lake level while slow steady rains soak into the drought-parched earth, Komiske said. Right now, the state needs both types of rain to recover from three years of drought.
Mandatory water conservation is still in effect in Norman.
“At this time of year, we normally would have water overflowing the spillway with a rain that hard,” Komiske said. “We’re still five feet low.”
Additionally, the 10 percent reduction in Norman’s allotment from Lake Thunderbird is still in effect. Starting in May, Norman will be able to use a portion of Del City’s allotment if “we exceed our allocation,”Komiske said.
“This rain is definitely good news, but it doesn’t end the drought,” Komiske said. “When the lake is back up where it should be, and the soil moisture content is back to normal, we’ll know the drought has ended.”
Komiske said the dry ground is like a sponge soaking up the rain. While every drop of rain helps, people are still asked to be aware of the need to conserve and use water wisely.
Fullingim said 275 people showed up at the Whittier, Irving and Cleveland Schools, which are opened as shelters during storms. Fire personnel passed out information on sheltering in place and notified everyone this is the last year the city’s shelters will open to the public.
The city shelters are not designed as tornado shelters.
Fulligim said the most dangerous place to be during a tornado or severe storm is in your car or outside. Sheltering in place is the national and state recommendation.
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