Tornadoes hit Oklahoma for third day

Thursday, April 18th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Emergency management officials planned to survey damage left by a large tornado that ripped through sparsely populated areas of northwestern Oklahoma early Thursday.

There were no reports of injuries, but one home may have been destroyed and others damaged by the twister, which reportedly grew to one-eighth of a mile in width at times, authorities said.

The twister marked the third straight day of tornadic thunderstorms in Oklahoma, and forecasters predicted more severe weather Thursday afternoon.

Spotters reported seeing a large tornado in Major County, alternately lifting and touching down as it moved toward Woods County after midnight.

As it tracked northeastward between Carmen and Lambert in western Alfalfa County, the storm destroyed one house and damaged others, civil defense director George Washburn said.

``I know of two confirmed hits on residences,'' Washburn said. ``One pretty well was torn up southwest of Lambert.

``From what I understand, one woman called into the sheriff's office and said she was OK but that her house had taken a hard hit and a tree was uprooted and totaled her vehicle.''

Washburn said storm spotters believe the storm grew to an eighth of a mile wide at one point. Other reports put the storm at between 100 to 200 yards wide.

``It will be daylight before we can see everything, but thankfully it was out in the country and in some wheat fields,'' Washburn said.

There were preliminary reports of tree damage in Major County and no early reports of damage in Woods County, although officials said they would be going out to check later in the day.

The tornadoes developed along the dryline as it moved eastward out of the Texas Panhandle Wednesday afternoon. The dryline is a boundary between warm, moist air and dry air that is often the focal point for severe weather in the spring.

On Wednesday night, a possible tornado did minor damage in Elk City, authorities said.

``We had some funnel clouds pass over the town. There was a little bit of roof damage and a sign was taken off a motel,'' firefighter Thomas James said. ``A unit that responded to the scene said it looked like straight-line wind damage. The funnel cloud went north of town, but no one actually saw it touch down.''

Tornado warnings also were issued for Dewey and Woodward counties, but there were no reports of damage or injuries in those areas.

On Tuesday, a small tornado whipped through a cemetery, an airport hangar and several out buildings in Atoka County.

Atoka residents saw the tornado touch down in the city, said Don Walker, director of emergency management for the county. It followed Oklahoma Highway 7, destroying some sheds and other out buildings.

``It was definitely a tornado,'' Walker said. ``It was small, but it did some damage.''