Winds during thunderstorms powerful as tornado

Winds of up to 96 mph were recorded during Monday night's thunderstorms. The National Weather Service compared the winds to a tornado or a hurricane.
BY MATT DINGER AND BRYAN PAINTER Modified: August 9, 2011 at 10:58 pm •  Published: August 9, 2011

Straight-line wind speeds recorded Monday at Lahoma in Garfield County were as powerful as an EF-1 tornado and a Category 2 hurricane.

The Oklahoma Mesonet recorded winds at 96 mph during Monday night's thunderstorm. Wind speeds with EF-1 tornadoes are between 86 and 110 mph, and 95 mph is the highest wind speed in Category 1 hurricanes.

“What we saw yesterday can be more damaging than a weak tornado in many cases,” said forecaster Marc Austin with the National Weather Service in Norman. “You end up with a pretty widespread swatch of wind damage, two to five miles in width or greater.”

When surface temperatures are high and dew points are low, the storm rushes cooler air to the surface as rain falls and produces damaging winds, he said.

“Such hot temperatures make it much more favorable that you're going to get really intense downdrafts,” Austin said.

Wind gusts were measured at 80 mph a couple of miles north of Stillwater and at 73 mph four miles south of Billings in Noble County. Winds of 71 mph were recorded six miles north of Oklahoma City, and 70 mph winds were reported at Vance Air Force Base in Garfield County.

Thousands of residents were without power after the storms pummeled north-central Oklahoma. About 3,000 Oklahoma City residents were still without power late Tuesday afternoon. Enid and Piedmont had about 1,000 residents without power.

Emergency managers reported roof damage, downed trees and downed power lines throughout the affected counties.

Noble County

Noble County Sheriff Charlie Hanger said his county had a lot of tree damage. Some barns were blown away, and many were damaged.

“We had one trailer home southeast of Perry that blew over with three people in it. One lady was trapped inside for probably close to an hour or more before they could get her out,” he said. “I don't think her injuries were life-threatening. They took her to the hospital.”

Hanger said cattle feeders sitting in pastures were tossed about by the wind.

Garfield County

On Sunday, the Rev. Tim Dorsch, of Zion Lutheran Church in Fairmont, spoke to the 85 people in attendance about the difference a little faith can make.

A day later, strong winds ripped off about 25 feet of the roof of the 49-year-old sanctuary where he'd delivered that message.

Rain blew in on the pews, hymnals and some sound system equipment. The portion of the roof that was blown off landed on another area of the church with such force that it broke some rafters underneath that roof, Dorsch said.

“We need faith every day of our life, but when things are tougher than we'd like, that's when we especially need it,” Dorsch said. “If Peter could walk on the water with a little faith, because it's actually the Lord who provides the power, He can do a lot through us with just a little faith.”

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