We were glued to the TV and computer yesterday afternoon and evening for storm updates. Storms were firing up right on top of us and then moving to the northeast and continuing up into Kansas. The tornado shelter was readied. Of our two cats, one is a literal scaredy cat and vanishes with the first clap of thunder 25 miles away. She is impossible to find until she comes out on her own hours later, and even if we could find the hole she was curled up in, it would probably take a crowbar to extract her. I picked up the other cat, Piper, still napping contentedly on the couch, and put her in a cat carrier. The decision had already been made to move to the shelter when the tornado siren went off. We had one tornado here with no damage in the immediate area, but the central part of Oklahoma took the brunt of the damage.
One of the intriquing aspects of these tornadoes was how slowly they moved, and much of the damage was caused not by a high EF-rating, but by them going stationary and just churning in one spot. The area of I-35 just south of Oklahoma City was hit. One motel was demolished and condemned, another had the facade removed, other normal severe storm damage was done over the area, like the removal of the metal roof over the Sonic restaurant and downing of utility poles, etc., but an RV park was seriously damaged with RV’s rolled, tossed, and stacked all over the place. The park had a storm shelter, so residents and campers found cover there.
No deaths have been reported. There were 5 critically injured last night, and by this morning three have been upgraded, leaving just the two in need of more trauma treatment. (Update: A 42-year-old woman was found drowned in her storm shelter in South Oklahoma City.)
Bridge Creek, southwest of Oklahoma City, took a direct hit. Between 1,500 and 2,000 buildings have been seriously damaged or destroyed in the small community. A serious indictment of the leadership there was the total absence of any tornado warning system. The fire department had to drive around the community warning residents to take cover, while the firehouse itself was damaged and the firemen were put in peril. Any community in such tornado-prone areas that fail to provide a warning system for their residents and businesses are clearly nonfeasant.
The severe storm and tornado risk is low today, about 25%, but then goes to about 55% tomorrow, and up to 95% Saturday with the arrival of a really ugly looking system. A lot more Oklahomans will be moving underground in the next few days.