Tornadoes strike Texas, Oklahoma, cause widespread damage
SEMINOLE, Okla. (AP) — A storm system spawned several tornadoes that whipped through areas of Texas and Oklahoma, causing damage to a school, a marijuana farm and other structures.
There were no reports of serious injuries following the Wednesday night tornadoes, but the system caused flooding in parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas, and more stormy weather took place Thursday.
Significant damage was reported in the Oklahoma city of Seminole, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) southeast of Oklahoma City, where Gov. Kevin Stitt said damage assessments were underway after he toured the area Thursday.
“(We’re) getting all the resources and supplies that the city wants and needs,” including generators, Stitt said. “Thank the Lord that nobody was hurt” and no deaths have been reported.
The National Weather Service said it found damage in Seminole from an EF2 tornado, which has winds speeds of up to 135 mph (217 kph).
More than 2,900 customers remained without power in Seminole late Thursday afternoon, according to Oklahoma Gas & Electric, more than 63% of the utility customers in the city.
The Academy of Seminole took a direct hit but no one was injured, the school said on Facebook.
Video footage from Oklahoma TV station KOCO showed a tornado hit a marijuana farm in the nearby town of Maud.
Several roads and highways were closed Thursday morning in parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas because of flash flooding.
In Bixby, Oklahoma, located south of Tulsa, officials opened a temporary shelter at a church after thunderstorms flooded some homes and streets in one neighborhood.
In East Texas, a tornado on Thursday damaged several campers and buildings at an RV park in Rusk County, Sheriff Johnwayne Valdez told KTRE-TV. The Rusk County Office of Emergency Management reported one person was injured after being hit by a tree.
On Wednesday, a “large and dangerous tornado” was spotted in the rural community of Lockett, about 170 miles (275 kilometers) northwest of Dallas, said the National Weather Service office in Norman, Oklahoma.
The weather service said it found damage near Lockett from an EF3 tornado, which has winds speeds of up to 165 mph (265 kph).
There were no significant injuries or deaths to residents in Wilbarger County, where Lockett is located, Sheriff Brian Fritze told KAUZ-TV. He said several homes and barns appeared to sustain extensive damage.
In Washington County in northwest Arkansas, officials performed more than 30 water rescues as heavy rainfall flooded homes and streets in the cities of Fayetteville and Johnson, KHBS/KHOG-TV reported.
The storms on Wednesday and Thursday were the latest in several rounds of severe weather in the central United States. Last week, a tornado damaged more than 1,000 buildings in the Wichita suburb of Andover, Kansas. Three University of Oklahoma meteorology students died in a car crash while returning from storm chasing.
The storms, which were moving east into other southern U.S. states, could bring more tornadoes, large hail and damaging winds, and the threat of severe weather will continue Friday in parts of the South and over the weekend in the central Plains and Midwest, the weather service said.