GRANDFIELD — Residents of a southwestern Oklahoma farming town spent Saturday cleaning up after a compact storm carrying a big punch pretty well shut the town down.
Hail the size of baseballs thrashed the wheat crop just days before harvest, damaging hundreds of homes and vehicles when the storm rolled through Friday evening.
City Manager Randy Clark said residents were repairing windows and roofs, and insurance agents and power line repairmen were working through the day Saturday.
“We just got clobbered,” Clark said. “I've seen hail storms before but this was the most damaging storm I've ever seen here in town.”
Clark said power lines came down west of town at the airport, and one woman was injured when the storm rolled through about 6 p.m. Friday.
The National Weather Service reported the small but ferocious storm developed just 20 minutes before hitting the town. The storm caused significant damage to Randlett, in Cotton County, before heading south and east into northern Texas.
Tillman County Sheriff Bobby Whittington, who lives in Grandfield, said he was not at home at the time of the storm but four of his family's vehicles were likely totaled.
Whittington said the storm blew the roof off a local diner and destroyed three of his sheriff's department vehicles.
Wheat crop suffers
Wheat farmers may have suffered the worst damage, though, with the giant hail obliterating most of the area's crop in a matter of minutes. The wheat was especially susceptible to storm damage because it was nearly mature, with harvest scheduled to kick off Tuesday.
“It was a pretty damn hard blow to a farming community that's trying to come back from a devastating drought last year,” Whittington said.