Claremore Daily Progress

July 24, 2013

UPDATE: Storms sweep through

Local area has trees knocked down, damage worse in Tulsa metro

Randy Cowling



Rozella Lunsford awoke Wednesday morning to discover Tuesday night’s storm had destroyed a tree in her backyard.
No one was injured. No damage was done to her house, but a 30-year-old box elder which she planted from a seed had several of its branches broken off due to the high winds.
“I planted that tree,” Lunsford said as she was picking up limbs.
A storm system moved through Northeast Oklahoma, bringing heavy rain and upwards of 80 miles per hour winds.
Lunsford said she lost power during the night, but it was back on by morning.
The storms toppled trash cans, patio furniture,  anything that might not have been tied down. 
The winds knocked out power in the Tulsa area, which may take several days to restore.
At the peak of the storm, more than 100,000 people throughout the Tulsa metro area were without electricity, and American Electric Power-Public Service Company of Oklahoma president Stuart Solomon said it could be several days until power is restored. By mid-morning Wednesday, outages had been trimmed to around 74,000 — the bulk of those in Tulsa County.
A new batch of potentially violent thunderstorms could hit the same area when they are forecast to clip eastern Oklahoma late tonight and early Friday, according to the National Weather Service in Tulsa. The service predicted  highs in the low 90s today.
“This is one of the worst storms we’ve seen hit Tulsa,” Solomon said Wednesday at a news conference at City Hall, where he announced that extra crews from out of state were being tapped to help restore power. 
“There is widespread damage throughout the entire city.”
The storms toppled trees, bent road signs and caused at least 10 house fires, the fire department reported. Tulsa’s 911 call center was inundated with thousands of calls, causing a near-overload of the system.
PSO has called in help from outside the region to restore power, said Michael Gordon of Public Service Company of Oklahoma. . Gordon said residents should prepare for a multi-day outage. Residents also should assume any downed lines are “energized,” he said.
“We had 100 calls in the queue,” said Scott Clark, deputy chief of support services for the fire department, who described a chaotic scene at the call center where supervisors were fielding some of the calls. “At one point last night (the fire department was) down to no resources.”
The supercell storms originated over the Kansas plains and tracked southeast, holding together long enough to rake Tulsa. Brad McGavock, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tulsa, said the type of storm was atypical for mid-July in the northeastern part of the state.  The difference, he said, was that this storm hit a populated area.
“They happen, but they may not move into a populous area, even though the systems have the same damaging winds,” he said.