February Twisters Rare In Oklahoma

Wednesday, February 11th 2009, 12:10 pm
By: News On 6

Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- February tornadoes are unusual, even in tornado-prone Oklahoma, but they are not unprecedented, a meteorologist said Wednesday.

At least three tornadoes touched down in the state on Tuesday, including one in the small town of Lone Grove blamed for eight deaths and dozens of injuries.

National Weather Service meteorologist Doug Speheger in Norman said Oklahoma has had 44 February tornadoes since 1950. Only two of those resulted in fatalities, both on February 22, 1975, when three people died when twisters hit in Jackson and Kiowa counties in the southwestern part of the state.

The most recent February twister before Tuesday's spurt occurred on the morning of February 25, 2000, in Tulsa. The day before, another tornado hit Ellis and Harper counties in western Oklahoma, damaging a hog barn and downing power lines, according to weather service records.

"In mid- to late March and going through May and mid-June is kind of when we usually have our severe weather season, when we typically see severe weather," Speheger said early Wednesday.

"February tornadoes aren't terribly uncommon in the southeastern United States, but here in Oklahoma, it's pretty unusual for it to be this early in the year and for them to be this strong."

Last February tornadoes killed more than 50 people in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.

That outbreak was farther north than most February tornadoes and stronger, Joseph Schaefer, director of the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, said at the time. February tornadoes usually pop up near the Gulf Coast, meteorologists said.

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