Oklahoma's eight-month streak without a tornado — the second-longest period since record-keeping began in 1950 — was snapped this weekend by a pair of suspected twister touchdowns, but the state's wild weather continued into Monday, blowing snow from the Panhandle to Tulsa and prompting overnight freeze warnings.
The pair of tornadoes touched down briefly Sunday near the rural town of Velma during storms that packed high winds, hail and a cold front on the heels of weekend temperatures that reached into the 70s and 80s. The tornadoes occurred over rural portions of the county and caused little damage, according to the National Weather Service in Norman.
Before Sunday's nasty weather, Oklahoma hadn't had a tornado or a tornado warning for more than eight months — with the last tornado touchdown in the state reported Aug. 7, a brief funnel near the Panhandle town of Turpin. The streak of 248 days tied the state's second-longest period.
The tornadoes gave way to frigid cold and blowing snow by Monday morning, as temperatures struggled to make it into the 40s.
The cold front was expected to remain overnight, and a hard freeze warning was posted by the weather service for Tuesday morning for the western half of the state and a freeze warning for the same period in eastern Oklahoma.
The deep freeze, while not uncommon in Oklahoma this time of year as winter transitions to spring, still has the potential to kill or damage sensitive crops and plants such as peach orchards, tomatoes and some flowers, warned Kenda Woodburn, horticulture extension educator for Oklahoma State University's extension office in Tulsa. Woodburn and forecasters warned residents to cover garden beds and bring potted plants indoors.
"We had a couple days of warm weather, which really made the plants push forward; some plants are going to get nipped," she said. "You have the cold fronts meeting warm air, and you're going to have situations like this where things all get turned around. A few degrees will make a big difference."