Storms destroy four homes, damage other structures


Saturday, March 6th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Severe thunderstorms packing high winds and torrential rains destroyed four homes and affected more than 100 other structures across Oklahoma earlier this week, authorities said Friday.

Seven injuries were reported and three traffic deaths were related to thunderstorms that moved through on Thursday.

Comanche, Cotton, Jefferson and Tillman counties in southwestern Oklahoma were most affected by Thursday's storms, with storm intensity peaking in an area from Altus to Lawton, the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management reported.

The National Weather Service determined that strong, straight-line winds and not tornadoes caused extensive damage in southwestern Oklahoma. Forecasters discovered that a weak tornado touched down Thursday afternoon near Muldrow in eastern Oklahoma, damaging structures and trees.

The highest reported straight-line wind speed on Thursday was 70 mph in Jefferson County, state emergency management officials said.

Three single family homes and a mobile home were destroyed. Major damage was reported to 26 structures, including single family homes, mobile homes, apartments and businesses, officials said.

Minor damage was reported to 93 single family homes, apartments, a business and a school.

In Velma, two homes were destroyed and 26 others were damaged, officials said.

Highs winds damaged vehicles and a concession stand at Cameron University in Lawton and they destroyed two aircraft and damaged a hangar and a pontoon boat in Chattanooga.

Strong winds also knocked a tractor-trailer rig off Interstate 44 near Walters in Cotton County, causing minor injuries to the driver, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported.

The storms also knocked out power to about 13,000 customers on Thursday. About 300 customers remained without power in Faxon on Friday and 59 customers in Lawton had no electricity, officials said.