Tuesday's tornado outbreak points out the dangers of being on roads and highways when severe weather hits.
A woman was killed in a head-on accident in Edmond as she sought shelter away from her home, said Edmond police officer James Hamm.
Three bodies were found along Interstate 40 west of El Reno. Officials don't know whether the victims were trying to seek shelter along the roadway or were sucked out of their vehicles. Their bodies were found 300 to 400 yards from the interstate, said Chris West, Oklahoma Highway Patrol spokesman.
“People were driving in a panic,” Hamm said. “They were worried and driving a faster speed than usual. It is hard to say what was going through their minds.
“People were rushing home, and they couldn't get anywhere. Driving turned out to be more hazardous.”
Traffic backs up
Many businesses and schools closed early to give people a chance to get home before the storms Tuesday afternoon. This led to significant traffic congestion in some areas.
Traffic along Kilpatrick Turnpike in Oklahoma City was bumper to bumper. Interstates 35 and 40 were reported backed up. Traffic on I-40 west of El Reno was stopped when emergency workers had reports of a tornado about to cross the interstate.
Tim Searcy, of Norman, compared Tuesday's traffic to University of Oklahoma football game day congestion in Norman.
“The volume was there and they were doing crazy stuff to get home and everyone had a phone to their ear,” said Searcy, who was trying to get from Oklahoma City to Norman.
“People were driving erratically,” said Ben Fenwick, who left Rose State College in Midwest City on his way to Norman. “They were weaving more than normal. People were in a hurry.”
Get out of the car
National Weather Service and law enforcement officials recommend drivers immediately seek shelter if there is a tornado warning or tornado seen in the area.
It is not a good idea to outrun a tornado because drivers can run into problems like blocked roads and traffic jams. Some tornadoes are wrapped in rain — making them difficult to see, weather officials said.
West said that as he drove from El Reno to Guthrie Tuesday evening, he saw demolished vehicles and others that were turned upside down and in trees.
“Vehicles aren't the place to be,” West said. “Sometimes bad things happen to good people.”