Tornadoes engulf areas of the plains on Monday, killing an Oklahoma man and injuring others–marking a period of unpredictable and dangerous weather in the nation’s midsection.
An emergency management director said that the man, believed to be in his late 70s, died when the tornado struck his home near Wynnewood, just south of Oklahoma City. This particular storm was considered a “tornado emergency,” so violent that forecasters forbid outside activities for communities near the twister.
“You are in a life-threatening situation,” forecasters proclaimed while warning the communities of Roff, population 725, and Hickory, population 71. “Flying debris will be deadly to those caught without shelter.”
The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, had warned that a “substantial tornado risk” could be a concern for the Southern Plains and Ozarks late Monday, and that some other storms could produce similarly disastrous outcomes.
The bad weather should settle in the Ohio and Tennessee valleys on Tuesday, forecasters said, but another storm is expected to hit the area of north Texas near St. Louis on Wednesday.
Monday’s wave of abrupt thunderstorms resulted in tornadoes near Oklahoma City and in the rolling hills south of the city, razing some homes and barns. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol closed Interstate 35 near Wynnewood for 15 minutes Monday so the storm could subside, temporarily shutting down the primary route between Oklahoma City and Dallas. Garvin County Emergency Management Director Bud Ramming said early Monday evening that the death was the only one reported thus far.
Television images showed homes destroyed, multiple overturned vehicles and demolished trees. A roof lay near a hay barn after the first tornado reports.Meteorologists said twisters with wind speeds above 111 mph were possible from eastern Oklahoma to central Arkansas. Hail 2 inches or more in diameter is possible from eastern Texas to southeastern Kansas. About 41 million people from Houston to Sioux City, Iowa, were at risk for some type of stormy weather. The imminent threat of tornadoes was not a present in the north, however, forecasters predicted a series of storms and tornado warnings near Lincoln, Nebraska.