Multiple tornadoes hop-scotched across the state Wednesday leaving at least one person dead in Sand Springs and at least 20 people treated at metro hospitals, four with serious injuries.
- The National Weather Service has rated the Sand Springs tornado as an E-F 2. That means it had winds of up to 135 MPH.
- Classes resume today in Sand Springs and Tulsa schools.
- The Governor toured the damage area. FEMA expected today.
- PSO reports only 200 customers are still without power.
– KWGS News
A Norman man also died in a single-vehicle accident during the storm, but police could not confirm whether the wreck was weather-related.
Moore schools are closed Thursday as district officials survey damages. Western Heights schools are also closed. According to the school’s website: “Due to storm damage around our north side schools, we are canceling school Thursday, March 26.”
The National Weather Service in Norman confirmed a tornado touched down about 6:35 p.m. in Moore at SW 4 and crossed Interstate 35 near the Warren Theatres, the area where the May 20, 2013, tornado left 25 people dead. The weather service described the tornado as “weak” and lasting briefly. Baseball-size hail and heavy thunderstorms bombarded the metro area for several hours.
In the Norman fatal accident, a pickup driver died near the 2900 block of E Robinson. The pickup was traveling east on Robinson when it left the road and struck a utility pole. The identity of the driver was withheld Wednesday night, pending notification of family.
Across the state, two tornadoes west of Sands Springs resulted in the death of at least one man in the River Oaks Mobile Home Park. Moore Public Schools announced on its Facebook page that classes were canceled Thursday because of damage across the district. The extent of the damage was not known late Wednesday, according to a district spokesman, but officials expect roof damage, blown-out windows and power outages. An update about the state of the buildings is expected Thursday. Southgate Elementary received extensive damage to its roof.
At least 20 people were treated at local hospitals for everything from bumps and bruises to lacerations suffered in the storm, said Lara O’Leary, EMSA spokeswoman. A University of Oklahoma Medical Center spokeswoman said the hospital received eight patients – four suffered serious injuries and were admitted to the trauma center.
Debris lined streets and hung from trees in south Moore shortly after the storm passed through. Metal carports lay crumpled in the road and wrapped around fences and sheds, and the jagged stumps of trees snapped in half by the strong winds pointed at the dark sky. Sirens filled the evening air as neighbors stood on their front porches, surveying the damage which included one house with a torn-off roof and several others with damage.
At the Furr’s Fresh Buffet, a cafeteria along Interstate 35 in Moore, about 20 customers huddled together in the walk-in coolers as a tornado came close. “It blew a roof out less than a mile away from us,” said manager R.J. Garza. “We just felt the vibration. Once the sirens went on, we sprung into action.” Integris Canadian Valley Hospital in Yukon received the largest amount of wind damage of the Integris hospitals, said Brooke Cayot, Integris Health Systems spokeswoman. The building lost power and was operating on a generator Wednesday night.
Between 500 and 600 people took shelter at Integris Baptist Medical Center, and more than 600 took shelter at Integris Southwest Medical Center. Moore police Sgt. Jeremy Lewis said significant damage was reported from Santa Fe over to Janeway and from SW 4 up to NW 6. Numerous homes in that area lost roofs or had significant structure damage, he said.
A few blocks to the south, one of the three KOMA towers on SW 4 still stood. Just to the east, the steeple of the Moore Church of the Nazarene lay in its front yard. National Weather Service could not confirm how many tornadoes touched down but there were media reports of tornadoes landing in Oklahoma City, Yukon and Norman.
More than 36,000 people lost power in the Oklahoma City metro area due to the weather, according to Oklahoma Gas and Electric. Customers at Taco Bueno, 1109 N Santa Fe in Moore, hid in the walk-in freezer, the same freezer other customers took cover in during the May 20, 2013, tornado. “Afterwards, we started making food by candlelight,” said Olga Ramierez, the district manager.
Friday, 27 March, 2015 at 04:38 (04:38 AM) UTC RSOE
— NWS Norman (@NWSNorman) March 26, 2015
— NWS Tulsa (@NWStulsa) March 27, 2015
More about tornadoes:
Sand Springs Tornado Red Cross Relief Drive