November tornado makes it seem like spring in Oklahoma

Thursday, November 11th 2004, 5:46 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Tornado sirens in November?

It sounded more like spring Wednesday as the wail of emergency sirens warned of the approach of as many as six tornadoes that crossed central and northeastern Oklahoma.

But forecasters say tornadoes are possible anywhere in the state whenever the right combination of weather conditions occurs -- even in the middle of autumn.

"We're known for our spring severe weather. But we can get tornadoes in any month of the year," Ty Judd, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Norman, said Thursday.

"We've had tornadoes in every month."

Tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma, Lincoln and Payne counties Wednesday, causing some property damage and power outages but no injuries, authorities said.

Although several tornadoes were reported, the weather system that spawned them was more isolated and less severe than the massive supercell storms that produced some of the most destructive tornadoes in history on May 3, 1999, killing dozens of people in Oklahoma and Kansas, Judd said.

"These were nothing like that," he said. "This was not an outbreak by any stretch."

Tornadoes formed Wednesday as a strong surface low pressure system moved into the central part of the state from the northwest, Judd said. Behind the system was a cold front.

The weather system was accompanied by temperature and wind flow patterns that contained enough moisture, instability, lift and wind shear to produce a tornadic thunderstorm.

Although the storms were not large and the atmosphere was not very unstable, the tornadoes were aided by the amount of wind shear they created, Judd said.

Tornado development is related to temperature differences across the edge of downdraft air that wraps around a storm system, according to forecasters.

Although one tornado was reportedly the size of a football field, meteorologists have not had a chance to assess the severity of Wednesday's twisters.

Utility crews were working Thursday to restore power to hundreds of electrical customers who lost power during the storms, officials said.

Although unusual, tornadoes are not unknown in the state in November, Judd said.

The last time a tornado touched down in the state in November was on Nov. 22, 1999, when several tornadoes were reported in northeastern Oklahoma.

The last tornado reported in Oklahoma County in November was recorded on Nov. 20, 1979.