One person injured as tornadoes leave damage in western, central Oklahoma

Wednesday, April 16th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A powerful storm system that spawned at least a half-dozen tornadoes left its mark on western and central Oklahoma.

Twisters damaged a school, a hospital, some mobile homes and outbuildings in three counties between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tuesday. One injury was reported in Roger Mills County, the hardest-hit area, authorities said.

A tornado that moved through about 6 p.m. heavily damaged the school in Sweetwater, a tiny town about 5 miles from the Texas border. The school's superintendent, whose name was not released, was injured when his mobile home, located near the school, toppled, said Kathryn Minor, a volunteer at the Roger Mills storm center in Reydon.

``It was the tornado that hit the school that rolled the trailer with him in it,'' Minor said.

The man was taken to an Elk City hospital by a school employee, Minor said. His condition was not known, but his injuries were thought to be minor.

Amy Wilkinson, a Roger Mills County resident, said all she could hear was the wind as the tornado blew in .

``We've got three kids ... and we just climbed in the cellar and sat together,'' Wilkinson told reporters. ``It was pretty scary.''

Minor said some outbuildings at the hospital in Cheyenne were damaged and the roof of a mobile home was taken off between Reydon and Sweetwater. Other damage included a destroyed barn and damaged home near Reydon and a collapsed barn in Strong City.

``There were some trees that were blown over and a fiberglass oil field tank was knocked into the road between Reydon and Sweetwater,'' the area of greatest damage, Minor said.

A possible tornado may have heavily damaged two homes and a church late Tuesday as line of severe thunderstorms tore through central Oklahoma, officials said.

``We had a pretty narrow path of damage rather than a wider path that high winds might cause,'' Choctaw Police Chief Billy Carter said early Wednesday.

There were no reports of injuries, Carter said. A number of trees, outbuildings and awnings also were damaged.

The storm moved into eastern Oklahoma early Wednesday, knocking power out in Terlton in Pawnee County and in Sapulpa in Creek County, the National Weather Service said. Winds of 60 mph felled a large tree across a road in Bixby, the service said.

The service said straight-line winds approaching 100 mph accompanied some of the storms, which swept into the state from the Texas Panhandle. The storms, which also had large hail, moved through quickly at about 50 mph.

Emergency managers in Roger Mills and Dewey counties reported five houses were damaged by the storms, one of them possibly heavily damaged, said Michelann Ooten, spokeswoman for the state Department of Civil Emergency Management.

Tornadoes also were reported near Butler in Custer County and about 3 miles west of Burns Flat in Washita County, the weather service said.

Warnings also were issued for Jackson County, where trees were downed and power outages were reported in Blair, north of Altus.

In central Oklahoma, straight-line winds damaged trees in Norman and caused sporadic power outages in Edmond.

Straight-line winds ranged from 58 mph to 90 mph, the latter in Carter in Beckham County.