GROVE — Colby Jones and his houseguests were within seconds of driving into what they thought was a tornado before the driver threw the four-wheel-drive pickup into reverse and headed backward, trying to outrun Sunday's storm.
“There was nowhere to go or turn around, so we drove backwards,” said Jones, who was a passenger in the pickup driven by Charlie Zandbergen.
Friends and relatives from the Tulsa area had spent the day at Jones' Grand Lake house in Cleora, about 20 miles east of Grove on the north side of the lake.
They were driving on a rural road south of Cleora when it began to hail and they noticed flying debris.
Jones said they drove toward Red Arrow Marina, where they saw a white funnel cloud over Grand Lake.
“We were just trying to run from it,” Jones said. “All we could see was debris flying everywhere.”
Jones said when they finally made it back to his lake house, they saw 15 uprooted oak trees between 60 and 70 feet tall in his yard, including one that crashed into his living room.
“You can't see the houses in my neighborhood for all the downed trees,” Jones said. “One tree narrowly missed a propane tank that was between my house and the neighbor's house.”
Jones said he has never seen a tornado or been close to one before.