Tornadoes in Oklahoma and Kansas Thursday have injured at least nine people and sent hundreds of residents the in the affected areas clambering for safety, just one week after a monster twister caused extensive damage in the town of Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
That tornado killed 24 people, including school children, at the Plaza Towers Elementary School.
According to reports, all the nine injured people were in Arkansas; two people were injured when lightning struck them in Rogers. Lightning also started a fire that damaged a condominium building in northwestern Indiana, according to reports.
At least three tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma, including one in Tulsa, and two more hit Arkansas. There were reports of falling trees and downed power-lines in Arkansas. Tommy Jackson, Emergency Management spokesman said rescuers had trouble reaching a destroyed home where one person was hurt because trees were blocking the road.
Greg Dial, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center, said the storms were not expected to ease until late Thursday night. More storms were expected Friday, he said.
“Tomorrow will be round two, we will have another round of severe weather, similar area, Oklahoma into the lower Mississippi Valley area,” Dial said.
He stated unofficially, there were reports of eight or nine tornadoes, most of them in southwest Arkansas bordering Oklahoma.
“The main thing is, the intensity of the tornado probably wasn’t as high, and they haven’t hit heavily populated areas,” Dial said.
Several counties to the north and south of Oklahoma City were affected by tornado warnings at various times on Thursday.
Tornado warning sirens were activated north in Guthrie, with a population of more than 10,000 people, prodding residents to seek shelter.
One perilous tornado warning also included Cushing, Oklahoma, which is an important home for U.S. oil and has over 65 million barrels of crude oil storage. But according to Bob Noltensmeyer, Cushing’s emergency management director, the storm passed through without causing damage.
Areas just north of Oklahoma City also received warnings, according to Corey Mead, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center.
Although, Moore and Oklahoma City were not immediately part of Thursday’s warnings, they were within a severe weather forecast zone which spawned a wide area of the Plains states and Midwest. Both cities were hit by the deadly EF5 tornado on May 20.
Tornado weary residents were on alert and watching the storms cautiously. Kristen Pupek, whose neighborhood was slightly affected, said it was business as usual for her.
“The way I see it, we can’t all just sit around and worry about when the next tornado is going to hit,” she said.
The May 20 tornado damaged close to 2,400 homes in Moore and Oklahoma City, said Jerry Lojka of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. Some 10,000 people were directly impacted by the tornado, he said.
The tornado was 1.3 miles wide as it moved through Moore, the National Weather Service said. The estimated peak wind ranged from 200 to 210 mph, which would make it an EF5, the most powerful category of tornadoes possible, according to the agency.
Moore has been hit by four destructive tornadoes in the last 15 years, including two rated at the strongest EF5 level.
By Perviz Walji