Pop-up twister destroys two local structures
By Ken Childers
A tornado touched down briefly last week in the Okemah area, completely destroying two outbuildings and damaging a house.
Just before 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 19, a tornado developed south of Interstate 40 and west of
N3760 Road. As it moved east-northeast, the twister destroyed a large outbuilding and damaged a home on property belonging to Monica Dean wife of the late Tony Dean, former superintendent of Okemah Public Schools.
The tornado, confirmed as an EF-1 by the National Weather Service (NWS), snapped large tree limbs as it crossed South 14th Street. Another outbuilding was destroyed east of South 14th Street and large tree limbs were snapped as it crossed Highway 27. The tornado appeared to dissipate before crossing N3780 Road, south of E1100 Road, the NWS said.
“There was no time to sound the sirens. It was moving fast,” said Jim Copeland, Emergency Management Director for Okfuskee County and the City of Okemah. “I was on the phone with the NWS and they said a rotation came up on their radar for one frame, then it was gone. I had a couple of storm spotters out between Bearden and Okemah, but they didn’t see anything because the tornado could’ve been rain-wrapped.”
Winds associated with the tornado were estimated by the NWS at 90-100 miles per hour with a path width of 225 yards. The path length was estimated at 2.7 miles.
Another twister touched down Thursday morning in the Creek County community of Olive, which is located about 12 miles north and east of Drumright. This tornado developed at 1:55 a.m. just south of Highway 33 and west of South 433rd West Avenue where large tree limbs were snapped.
The tornado moved northeast destroying an open air barn, uprooting a tree, and damaging a home. It also blew the roof off a mobile home and a barn. The NWS rated the tornado as an EF-0, with winds reaching speeds between 80-85 miles per hour.
Tornado safety tips
If you can safely get to a sturdy building, then do so immediately. Go to a safe room, basement, or storm cellar. If you are in a building with no basement, then get to a small interior room on the lowest level. Stay away from windows, doors, and outside walls. Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You’re safer in a low, flat location. Watch out for flying debris that can cause injury or death. Use your arms to protect your head and neck.