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Oklahoma weather

Stronger and deadlier

Tornado threat grows with more violent storms

A suspected EF2 tornado ripped through Kingston, Okla. and the Buncombe Creek area of Lake Texoma Tuesday.
Video by Colton Williams

Don’t think they can’t happen here. Or now. Or then.

Because tornadoes can – and do – happen everywhere. At any time. In any season.

Pigeon-holing the most violent storm in Mother Nature’s devastating weather arsenal is a serious lapse of judgment.

The National Weather Service reports McClain County was visited by 64 tornadoes from 1950 through 2019.

The breakdown includes 22 F0 and 22 F1 tornadoes. There were 11 F2 tornadoes, one F3, two F4 and 2 F5.

The strength of two tornadoes went in the books as unknown.

The earliest recorded tornado fatality in McClain County occurred June 22, 1936, at Rosedale.

The tornado that day churned a swath 3 miles long and 200 yards wide.

Three more would lose their lives and 56 were injured when a tornado took a 52-mile path across northern McClain County and into Cleveland, Pottawatomie and Lincoln Counties on April 30, 1949.

That same day, a separate tornado was on the ground for 25 miles from southeast of Lindsay to near Wayne. One person was reported injured.

Granted  most of the tornadic storms occur in the spring.

But don’t take that as a given for all tornadoes.

One of the deadliest tornadoes hit Blanchard on Nov. 19, 1973.

The F3 tornado claimed eight lives and injured 46 on its 24-mile path from Blanchard to Moore, Del City and southeast Oklahoma City.

It was 500 yards wide.

Most people will recall the May 3,1999, tornado. On the ground for 38 miles, this F5 monster killed 36 people from Bridge Creek to Midwest City  and injured 583.

Its path was 1,760 yards wide and 1,800 homes in its path were destroyed.

Then on May 20, 2013, another the skies brought more death and destruction along nearly the same path.

Seven of the 24 fatalities that day were elementary school children crushed under a collapsed wall at Plaza Towers Elementary School.

The deadly path was 14 miles long and 1,900 yards wide.

It is possible to survive even in an F5 tornado. But first, remember, there are no public storm shelters in Purcell.

According to FEMA, these are the steps to take and things to not do:

  • Take shelter immediately if there is a tornado warning.
  • Immediately go to a safe location such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar or a small interior room on the lowest level of a sturdy building.
  • Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls.
  • Protect yourself by covering your head or neck with your arms and putting materials such as furniture and blankets around or on top of you.
  • Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car.
  •  Do not go under an overpass or bridge. You’re safer in a low, flat location.
  • Watch out for flying debris that can cause injury or death.
  • Even after a tornado passes, it’s important to stay alert and use caution when clearing debris.
  • Stay clear of fallen power lines or broken utility lines.
  • Wear appropriate gear during clean-up, such as thick-soled shoes, long pants and work gloves, and use appropriate face coverings or masks if cleaning mold or other debris.
  • Do not enter damaged buildings until you are told they are safe.

For more information on how to prepare for tornadoes, build a safe room or clean up after a disaster, visit Ready.gov.


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