Hail pounds Oklahoma City as severe storms move across region

Strong to severe thunderstorms are moving through Oklahoma this afternoon.
By Michael Kimball, mkimball@opubco.com Modified: May 16, 2010 at 10:29 pm •  Published: May 16, 2010

Severe thunderstorms are tracking across Oklahoma, including one storm responsible for a tornado warning near Kingfisher this afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

No tornadoes have been reported, and the warning was allowed to expire.

Most of central and eastern Oklahoma, including the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas, is under a severe thunderstorm watch until 9 p.m., and large hail, tornadoes and heavy downpours possible, forecasters said.

The storm prompted the tornado warning near Kingfisher about 3 p.m., but did not produce one before the warning expired.

The same storm entered the northeastern fringe of the Oklahoma City metro area about 3:40 p.m., moving southeast through Edmond, north Oklahoma City and into downtown by about 4:15 p.m., radar imagery showed. The leading edge of the storm began moving out of the metro about 4:45 p.m.

Damage widespread in north Oklahoma City

Golf ball-sized hail pounded north Oklahoma City as the storm moved through. Car windshields were blown out and some roadways and ditches were flooded. Motorists with damaged cars were pulled over in parking lots across the northern metro this evening with cell phones pressed to their ears. Leaves and branches from damaged trees littered the landscape, and roofs showed visible damage.

Paramedics responded to 40 calls related to the hail from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. and took 21 patients to local hospitals with injuries, Emergency Medical Services Authority spokeswoman Lara O'Leary said. Two ambulance windshields were blown out during the storm.

Oklahoma City fire Deputy Chief Cecil Clay said firefighters responded to numerous crashes, injuries and at least three structure fires during the storm.

"Those came at an inopportune time," Clay said.

No serious injuries were reported in the fires. Clay said he does not believe the hail caused any life-threatening injuries.

Damage to buildings and cars near NW 63 and N May Avenue was widespread. Bewildered people wandered the parking lots amid scores of heavily damaged cars.

Hail was piled so deep outside of the Chelino's restaurant that motorists had trouble getting out of the parking lot, said Rick Hartline, a manager at nearby Push, Pedal and Pull, an exercise equipment retailer.

"Golf ball-sized hail was coming down sideways across May," said Hartline, a lifelong Oklahoman who said he hadn't ever seen a hail storm this bad.

Hartline said cars in parking lots throughout the area were heavily damaged, along with roofs. The roof to his store was damaged with water leaking through the ceiling.

The All Souls' Episcopal Church building at NW 63 and N Pennsylvania in Nichols Hills was damaged by hail, which shattered ceramic tiles on the roof and damaged a stained-glass window. Church staff member David McWilliams said the hail was tennis ball-sized.

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