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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Wednesday Tornadoes hit Arkansas and Oklahoma

3/27/2015 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Wednesday Tornadoes hit Arkansas and Oklahoma The U.S. had gone a month tornado-free until Tuesday when a waterspout formed over a lake in Arkansas.

Arkansas and Oklahoma

TULSA, Okla. - The nation's slow start to tornado season reached a devastating conclusion Wednesday night in Tulsa when winds hit the city during rush hour and left one citizen dead and several injured. 

The Tulsa County Sheriff's Capt. Bill McKelvey announced that one person was killed in a residence of a Sand Springs mobile home park which was nearly destroyed due to the weather. It was not clear whether the tornado itself or straight-line winds caused such damage to the mobile home park, which according to McKelvey contains 40 to 50 mobile residences. "It could have been much worse," McKelvey said after stating that several people had been confirmed injured, though the exact number was uncertain.

Across parts of Moore, another Oklahoma suburb in which 24 people perished in a top-of-the-scale EF5 tornado in 2013, was hit by small winds which continued to travel in the form of twisters from southwest Oklahoma to the east of Tulsa. Some where even reported down in the Ozark Mountains of nearby northwestern Arkansas.

The U.S. had gone a month tornado-free until Tuesday when a waterspout formed over a lake in Arkansas. Television footage captured the tornado as it swept through parts of Moore and and showed some of the roof damage houses suffered as a result of the strong winds, some of which were scraped to their foundations from the storm two years prior.  

In Tulsa, a glass door at the building which houses the National Weather Service's office was shattered, and several cars parked out front lost their windows. Resident Don Ruffin said that he and a neighbor were at a convenience store in southwest Moore when he caught sight of the tornado approaching. “I don’t know how close it was to us, but it looked like it was coming toward us, and so we didn’t take any chances,” Ruffin said. “We got in our vehicles, ran home and got in our shelters.”

He recalled that after the storm passed there was "patio furniture thrown everywhere," and that some houses had their fences knocked down. 27,000 homes and businesses were reported to be without power in Oklahoma City by electric companies, and 28,500 had lost power throughout Tulsa. According to the Oklahoma City Highway Patrol, a tractor trailer had overturned, causing a massive traffic jam in both directions of Interstate 35, a major north-south route. “Those troopers are working their guts out there right now,” Lt. John Vincent said.

While tornado season usually reaches full force in the United States in March, weather patterns this year funneled cold air into much of the country, which deprived the atmosphere of the warm, moist air necessary to fuel the bad storms for the majority of the month. After a quiet start to what is usually a hectic and destructive season, southerly winds pushed temperatures into the 70s and 80s through the Ozark Mountains and southwestern plains, where weather fronts churned the air into the storm's that hit Wednesday. 

Little Rock meteorologists Jeff Hood reported that a weak waterspout tornado had briefly touched Bull Shoals Lake in Marion County in northwest Arkansas on Tuesday night, but that it caused no known damage and will be rated an EF0, the weakest tornado with winds between 65 to 80 mph.

Greg Carbin, warning coordination meteorologist for the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, said that Wednesday's storms "will be the ‘tornado’ that breaks the drought for March."

Only about two-dozen twisters had been reported in total this year before this past week's massive storm, a startlingly low number during a period in which the average is 120. The last time the U.S. had no twisters in the month of March was nearly 50 years ago, according to figures obtained from the Storm Prediction Center. 

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