A storm system bringing straight-line winds slammed a majority of Norman early Sunday morning, leading to more than 26,000 customers initially being without power.
Vivek Mahale, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Norman, said the thunderstorm developed northwest of Norman in Blaine County, then grew into a small complex that moved southeast and intensified as it moved into central Oklahoma. The storm started coming in around Will Rogers World Airport around 11:50 p.m. and moved into Norman around midnight, with straight-line winds continuing to move through the county until about 12:30 a.m.
Mahale said Oklahoma Mesonet, based out of northwest Norman, measured wind gusts at 78 mph, and a personal weather station near Belmar Golf Club measured 81 mph.
Mahale and Oklahoma Gas & Electric spokesperson Brian Alford confirmed damage to trees, power lines, transformers and fuse boxes.
The NWS received a report of numerous power lines downed near Classen Avenue and Imhoff Road, as well as tree damage across Norman, Mahale said.
While straight-line and tornadic winds are different, Mahale said damage from straight-line wind gusts can be equivalent to that caused by a weak tornado.
Alford said damage costs are unavailable right now, since power recovery efforts are ongoing.
While OG&E saw damage and outages across their system, Norman was hit the hardest, with 26,277 customers initially without power, Alford said. Across OG&E's system, more than 70,000 outages were reported, including Oklahoma and into Arkansas.
Sunday afternoon, Alford said about 72% of the outages in OG&E's system had been restored, but outages are expected into Monday and possibly early Tuesday.
He said Norman suffered a lot of localized damage that requires crews to access customers' yards to make repairs.
He said Moore also received significant damage, but not to the extent that Norman suffered.
According to OG&E's website, as of 6 p.m. Sunday, 17,814 OG&E customers were without power across the coverage area. Norman had 3,130 outages remaining, Moore had 1,086 and Noble had 392.
Alford said 550 crews already have been deployed to restore power and an additional 600 contractor crews are heading to Norman to help, both from Oklahoma and out of state.
He said systemwide, OG&E lost 1,600 transformers, as well as a large number of poles and fuse cases from as far north as Enid down to Ardmore in the south and Fort Smith, Arkansas, to the east.
“Because of the number of storms that we have in Oklahoma, we have a very adaptive storm response,” Alford said. “We have processes and procedures in place to activate all hands on deck.”
He said OG&E crews are spread across the company's coverage area, but more resources are being sent to Norman due to the extent of the damage and customers without power.
Alford advised residents to stay away from downed power lines and check in on family and friends, especially the elderly and those with medical conditions who might be more affected by heat.
Mahale said Saturday's weather conditions were conducive to severe weather.
Regarding the weather forecast, he said there's a 20% chance of storms early Wednesday morning in northern Oklahoma. However, it's unknown how far south the storm could travel if it occurs.
“Yesterday was just a very hot and humid day, so we had a lot of potential instability and those thunderstorms basically utilized that potential instability, and we had severe weather,” Mahale said.
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