Unseasonably warm weather and moisture spawned several tornadoes in the state Tuesday. The storms also caused widespread damage in north Oklahoma City and west Edmond. Two afternoon tornadoes left at least 20 homes either damaged or destroyed in Edmond, several buildings and businesses ravaged in Oklahoma City and more than 28,500 customers were without electricity in the metro area and as far northeast as Payne County during the storm, officials said. A third tornado killed at least 8 people and injured 25 to 50 people in Lone Grove. This kind of weather usually doesn’t happen in Oklahoma in February. Early in the day Mike Foster — meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service’s Norman forecast office — said, "It’s February, but we’re going to treat it like May.” Only 44 February tornadoes had been documented in Oklahoma since 1950. The last time a twister landed on Oklahoma soil in February was in 2000. It had been 34 years since an Oklahoman had died in a February tornado. "The rapid movement of very warm, moist air from northeast Texas into central Oklahoma provided the fuel to start these storms,” Foster said.
In EdmondSirens sent Edmond residents like Lisa Brady scurrying for shelter in Kanlay’s North County neighborhood near Covell Road and Santa Fe Avenue. "I heard a rumbling and looked out the window and saw the rain and cloudiness and said, ‘It’s time to take cover.’ I heard doors slam and glass break. I didn’t hear the trees snap, but I knew something was going on out there,” Brady said. Uprooted trees and damaged roof shingles littered the neighborhood. In an Edmond business park, the tornado turned a body shop and cars into a twisted ball of metal. Shop manager Michael Jerry left the shop shortly before the tornado struck. He watched weather reports on television at home as the storm approached the area. "It’s just surreal,” Jerry said. "You just don’t believe it. Especially knowing you were just there minutes before. The steel girders are in a ball.”
Oklahoma CityAndrea Stephens of Edmond was eating a late lunch with relatives at El Chico at 801 Northwest Expressway when a tornado hit. Suddenly, a waitress cried, "It’s coming!” Patrons and employees huddled in the walk-in freezer as loud noises swirled around them outside. When Stephens and her family emerged from their refuge, they found their van destroyed with dents and broken glass. Toppled telephone poles, signs and fences were strewn amid a scattering of debris. "It was just unbelievable that something could come that quick,” said Stephens, who like several other customers was suddenly left stranded with shards of glass wedged in their vehicle seats. Benny Ferguson, who was nearby, saw the tornado plow into El Chico. "I saw like a funnel cloud and sparks and stuff flying through the air,” Ferguson said. "I was in the Hertz Building. We were looking west. It was pretty wild, seeing stuff flying through the air.” Other damage Earlier Tuesday, the storm left 10 homes destroyed and at least a dozen more damaged in Edmond, police spokeswoman Glynda Chu said. The heaviest damage was in the Sorghum Mill Estates and Oak Tree neighborhoods near W Sorghum Mill Road and N Kelly Avenue. Across many neighborhoods in Edmond, mainly northeast of N Santa Fe Avenue and W Danforth Road, large trees were uprooted, fences and mailboxes were damaged and power lines leaned onto — and in some cases through — rooftops. In Oklahoma City, the same storm system that wrought havoc in Edmond damaged businesses, homes and an apartment complex near Northwest Expressway and N Rockwell Avenue about 2:30 p.m. Three minor injuries were reported. Twenty homes were reported damaged in Logan County, but no injuries were reported, emergency management officials said. In Pottawatomie County, a state Department of Transportation facility east of Tecumseh was destroyed, authorities said. The National Weather Service reported another tornado touched down near Pawnee, but no injuries were left in its wake, officials said. Two barns were destroyed. Relief offered Workers with the Salvation Army and Baptist Disaster Relief were en route to Lone Grove late Tuesday to help feed displaced residents and lend emotional support, state emergency management officials said. The Salvation Army also opened shelters in Oklahoma City (Messiah Lutheran Church, 3600 Northwest Expressway), Edmond (Waterloo Baptist Church, 3100 E Waterloo Rd.) and Ardmore (Heritage Hall Center, 220 W Broadway St.). The American Red Cross of Central Oklahoma provided first responders in the Oklahoma City area with more than 200 meals while crews worked to assess damage. Red Cross officials will help emergency management officials with disaster assessments today.
• Dime/penny, 0.75 inches in diameter
• Nickel, 0.88 inches
• Quarter, 1 inch
• Half dollar, 1.25 inches
• Ping pong ball, 1.5 inches
• Golf Ball, 1.75 inches
• Hen egg, 2 inches
• Tennis ball, 2.5 inches
• Baseball, 2.75 inches
• Tea cup, 3 inches
• Grapefruit, 4 inches
• Softball, 4.5 inches Source: National Weather Service
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