Okmulgee State Park EF-0 Tornado Does Surprising Amount Of Damage

Thursday, May 29th 2014, 6:25 pm
By: Craig Day

Some Green Country campers count their blessings after riding out a tornado in their recreational vehicles.

The National Weather Service says a weak, EF-0 tornado hit Okmulgee State Park on Tuesday afternoon.

Even though it was classified on the low end for intensity, the tornado was still strong enough to leave a lot of debris, and campers relieved it didn't hit a day earlier.

"You have this tree that was down, there was one down by the motorcycle," said. "Took the top out of mine."

At Okmulgee State Park, a number of trees are uprooted or snapped off at the top.

There are plenty of signs a tornado ripped through the camping area.

"I could not believe the big trees it pulled down," camper Dorothy McCaslin said.

Bob McCaslin said no matter how weak it measured, "I don't want another one."

The McCaslins were in their RV when the tornado with winds between 65 and 85 miles per hour hit.

"Well, it shook it pretty good," Bob said.

Liz Campbell saw the storm.

"Could look up and I could see it swirling," she said.

Campbell was also inside her RV with her three young grandchildren alongside her.

"It was just so quick, the kids got scared and screamed," she said. "We grabbed them and it was over."

It didn't take long to cause a lot of damage at Okmulgee State Park, even though the tornado didn't last long.

"It looked like, you know, heck," campground host Georgina Endres said. "And I'm just so thankful that it wasn't any worse than it was and no one was hurt."

One reason no one was hurt is because the tornado hit on Tuesday, 24 hours earlier it could have been a different story, since the state park would have been jam-packed with hundreds of Memorial Day campers.

"Timing was everything, and by the grace of God, we're all OK and we can clean up the mess, that's for darn sure," Endres said.

State park workers already have cleared much of the tree debris from roads and larger limbs from campsites, so the park doesn't expect any problems for campers this weekend.

The National Weather Service says the tornado was only about 50 yards wide, and it was on the ground for only about a half mile.