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.
Sirens 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.”
Andrea 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.