Monday, May 20, 2013

Tornado Outbreak in Oklahoma Late Sunday Afternoon, May 19, 2013

Oklahoma broadcast media goes live yesterday as chance of tornadoes coming to the ground out of the wall clouds increased.  Video is included today to show what storm chasers were seeing on the ground and in the air.

Always turned to Channel 9 when I hear there is bad weather in the area because they have storm chasers available to go along with a helicopter that chases the big tornadoes.  For those who don't live in our area, thought I would include the video taken by one of the Storm Trackers, Bobby Payne, as he tracked the storm starting in Edmond: - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

This tornado that touched down in the Edmond area was the beginning of the tornadoes touching down in Central Oklahoma destroying home after home in rural areas of this part of the state.
Severe weather produced multiple tornadoes that tore across central Oklahoma, Sunday afternoon. The first tornado touched down near 15th St. between Coltrane and Bryant in the city of Edmond. Damage and debris was reported by News 9 storm chasers. Scanner reports indicate damage in the Thornebrook housing area. One home had its 2nd floor ripped off. 
Mercy Hospital released the following statement concerning the damage sustained to their Edmond facility, still under construction: "Mercy Edmond I-35, our facility under construction in Edmond, sustained damage from today's tornado including broken windows and roof damage. All utilities have been shut off. No one was on site at the time the tornado hit. No one has been injured."
Quite a few of the weather forecasters here are graduates of the University of Oklahoma School of Meteorology which is part of the College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences which is located with NOAA which consists of the National Weather Service, Radar Operations Center, Storm Prediction Center, National Severe Storms Laboratory, Warning Decision Training Branch on the southern part of the OU campus.  Gary England, Chief Meteorologist at Channel 9, also gives us the weather forecast before every home football game on Sooner Vision so his ties at OU run deep.

We have storm trackers in from around the world in Norman right now.  Late afternoon yesterday James Cantore of The Weather Channel left the Edmond tornado tracking into Carney to join the storm trackers following the one that hit at Lake Thunderbird area in way east Norman and moved on to the Shawnee area.  That wall cloud was huge, mean and nasty looking as it passed over Norman with multiple vortexes.  After the warning hit my cell phone, it looked even nastier as it headed east.  You could see it from my front door after our sirens stopped and you could hear the ones in east Norman still going off.  We had a very small amount of hail with heavy rains for about 15 minutes if that.

When you drive around Norman, you see the vehicles the storm trackers drive plus the ones with all the electronic equipment on their vehicles.  Hardly a day goes by when you are out, you don't see at least one vehicle ready to track a storm.  They are prepared to have a repeat late this afternoon as the dry line refuses to move through from western Oklahoma and we still have the humidity today.  Don't remember running my air conditioning this early in May.  It is a time for windows being open.

Knew it was tornadoes were close when the sirens went off in Norman from another storm to the south as I live a little over a block away from the new sirens which only go off when tornadoes are in your area not the whole county now.  One great thing about living here is that Channel 9 and others track the storms by streets and we get the latest equipment tested on us.  These new sirens would wake you from a sound sleep.

The video from Lake Thunderbird was an amazing display of nature as the tornado increased in size over the Lake which sits in east Norman:

This is destruction that came from that tornado that started over Lake Thunderbird.  Unfortunately, one of the people brought to Norman Regional has now died.  Complete homes were leveled with some homes left with little of what was their homes only minutes before the storm hit.  This was one of the homes hit by that tornado:  

May 20, 2013
Tornado tears through county 
By Jessica Bruha The Norman Transcript 
NORMAN — A spring storm packing a single tornado ripped across far eastern Cleveland County on Sunday evening, carrying hail, strong winds and injuring at least six persons, with three in critical condition. 
Officials report there were no confirmed fatalities in Cleveland County related to Sunday’s storm. 
Six patients were transported to Norman Regional Hospital. Five patients were transported by EMSStat, and one was transported by a park ranger from the east Norman/Little Axe/Newalla area, NRHS media relations coordinator Kelly Wells and Norman Fire Deputy Chief Jim Bailey said. 
Wells said some patients were injured from flying debris, some were trapped under homes and others were sucked out of their homes. More patients were expected to arrive overnight as Norman Regional paramedics continued to search the area for survivors. 
Bailey said emergency crews will continue to search throughout the night with the main focus on the east side of the lake where most of the damage occurred. 
Sheriff’s officials reported that much of the damage in Cleveland County was along Indian Hills Road between 168th Avenue Northeast and 192nd Avenue Northeast. 
Road closings, Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Meghan McCormick said, included Indians Hills Road and 168th; Franklin Road and 192nd; 149th and Harrah Road; Harrah and Rolling Oak; and 192nd to 149th Street. 
Several people lost their homes on 156th Avenue Northeast and East Franklin Road.
“I saw the tail of the storm coming toward me, so I drove to the casino,” resident Kenneth Lastinger said. 
The only thing left standing was his porch. As he sorted through debris in his yard, he said was glad his dog was able to weather the storm. 
“He made it through in the demolished, blown-away house,” he said. “Praise the Lord.”
A friend helping Lastinger said the dog was hiding behind a hill when they found him. Pages of the Bible were scattered all across the property from Bibles Lastinger collected, he said. 
As for Sunday night, Lastinger said he had a friend bringing him a tent and a generator to keep out on the property for as long as it’s needed. 
“It happens. It’s never happened to me, but now it has,” he said. 
Read More at the Norman Transcript
In the Shawnee area a semi truck was thrown off the overpass.  This video from Channel 9 shows the devastation in the Shawnee area and the truck that was thrown on to the State highway below near Fire Lake Casino along I-40:

This whole area of Central and Western Oklahoma owes a debt of gratitude to our local news stations who have put money into their storm tracking and radar to bring us up to date weather when there is bad weather in the area.  Channel 9 (CBS) was on the air from the beginning to aftermath last night.  Channel 4 (NBC) and Channel 5 (ABC) also had storm trackers out with wall to wall coverage.

First time I saw Channel 9 in action was the Moore tornado that was one mph short of an F-6 which tore through about six miles from where we lived.  We had just been transferred to Oklahoma and had little to no knowledge except what we saw in the movie Twister.  BTW part of Twister was filmed in this area including the bridge at Lake Thunderbird.  The more data that is collected from the instruments, the more scientists can learn about tornadoes at the NOAA complex at OU which also includes people from around the world.
There was a family in a large shelter that had the second store of their home blown in the storm shelter.

Fortunately, they was enough space for a hand to get a cell phone out and call 911.  Now makers of storm shelters are going to have to find a way to get cell coverage out of their storm shelters.   Have never seen coverage like we have in Oklahoma but hearing other places are now adapting the Oklahoma way of reporting the movement street by street.  When Channel 9 personnel says take cover underground, you know the storm is a major bearing down.

Because of our early warnings and the coverage we get from our local media, the amount of injuries and loss of life is fairly small once again.

One more afternoon to go through and then they said we shouldn't have any more worries until this weekend.  Someday I will get everything planted - hopefully tomorrow!

Stay safe to anyone in a tornado target zone in the Country today and stay tuned to your local media.

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