Tornado churns through Oklahoma City suburbs
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A mile-wide tornado churned through the Oklahoma City suburbs, destroying homes for the second day in a row Monday, as part of a severe weather outbreak that was expected to spread in other parts of the Plains and Midwest.
A massive black-and-blue cloud dragged across the landscape just south of Will Rogers World Airport.
Television video showed debris from homes and businesses being carried aloft as the twister rolled through Moore, a community on the south side of Oklahoma City. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
In advance of the storm, the Oklahoma House of Representatives stopped work so Capitol employees could take shelter in the basement. Television and radio broadcasters urged residents to take shelter because the storm’s strength and size.
“We’re just waiting to see what happens. It’s a mile-wide tornado. It’s still grinding out,” said Mark Meyers, a spokesman for the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office. “We are currently on standby for tornado response. Whatever happens, we’ll be ready to respond.”
The strongest winds on earth — 302 mph — were recorded near Moore during a tornado May 3, 1999.
The Storm Prediction Center in Norman had predicted a major outbreak of severe weather Monday in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.
Storms on Sunday killed two people near Shawnee, about 35 miles southeast of Oklahoma City. Gov. Mary Fallin earlier Monday took a tour of the areas hardest hit and she expressed concern that, with power out, Oklahomans might not receive warnings about the new round of storms.
Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth said a 79-year-old man, who was later identified as Glen Irish, was found dead Sunday out in the open at Steelman Estates, a mobile home park near Shawnee. The state medical examiner’s office said Monday that a 76-year-old man, Billy Hutchinson, was found dead in a vehicle.
The office said both men lived in Shawnee, but the city wasn’t hit by the tornado and it wasn’t immediately clear if either or both lived in the mobile home park, which is near the city.