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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Tornadoes injure at least a dozen in Oklahoma


A storm prediction map provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows a moderate risk of severe thunderstorms and significant winds in parts of Oklahoma on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023.

By Christine Chung, Livia Albeck-Ripka and Derrick Bryson Taylor


At least a dozen people were injured in Oklahoma after two tornadoes rushed through the state Sunday evening, authorities said.


Forecasters said one tornado was reported near Norman, Oklahoma, about 20 miles south of Oklahoma City, and another in the west-central part of the state.


The tornadoes were part of a powerful storm system that packed severe gusts as it moved northeast from the Texas Panhandle.


At a news conference Monday morning, Chief Kevin Foster of the Norman Police Department said at least 12 people had been injured during the storms, although none of the injuries were life-threatening.


Foster said the storms had left a trail of destruction across Norman, damaging homes, businesses and schools. Several roads were also closed because of downed power lines, he said.


The storms were so powerful that a vehicle was flipped on top of another, according to News9, a local television station. Video from another local news outlet, KOCO-TV, showed buildings, including a barn with horses still inside, that had their roofs ripped off by the storms.


The National Weather Service office in Norman, which had been closely monitoring the weather system, concluded Sunday evening’s storm coverage: “Well it’s been a day.”


A third tornado toppled trees and power lines and damaged a home in Liberal, Kansas, according to Marc Chenard, a meteorologist for the weather service.


As of Monday morning, more than 16,000 customers in Oklahoma were without power, according to PowerOutage.us, which aggregates data from utilities across the United States. A small number of electrical outages were also reported in Missouri and Texas.


Wind gusts of 114 mph were recorded in Hall County, Texas, Chenard said. The weather service also reported widespread gusts ranging from 70-90 mph in southwest Oklahoma.


In McLean, a town 75 miles east of Amarillo, Texas, people were warned by the weather service Sunday evening to take cover from a possible tornado.


The storm system had been expected to develop into a derecho, a windstorm extending more than 240 miles with a line of fast-moving thunderstorms, according to the weather service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman.


The weather service had described the storm, which affected a large portion of Oklahoma, as posing a “moderate” risk, the second-highest ranking.


The flurry of advisories, watches and warnings for severe weather that were issued across the state have all since expired. However, breezy conditions were expected to continue through the afternoon.


The weather threat will shift toward the Midwest, with parts of Illinois and Ohio under a slight risk of severe thunderstorms, the Storm Prediction Center said. The thunderstorms may produce damaging wind gusts across the Ohio Valley and may also spawn tornadoes across the state.

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