Heavy rains bring flooding, tornadoes Monday across Oklahoma
Throughout Monday afternoon, multiple tornadoes touched down and heavy rain flooded areas across Oklahoma in what was expected to be one of the most violent storms in recent years.
Large storm systems hung over the western and central portions of the state for most of Monday, with small and large tornadoes moving through Crescent and Perry in northern central Oklahoma and Mangum in southwestern Oklahoma, among other locations.
Dozens of counties were put under tornado warnings and watches, as well as flash flood warnings and watches throughout the day and into Monday night, according to the National Weather Service.
Heavy rain, high winds, large hail, tornadoes and flooding were a main worry going into Monday night, said Ryan Barnes, a weather service meteorologist.
“The tornadoes so far have been mostly in rural areas, thankfully,” Barnes told The Oklahoman at 6 p.m. Monday night. “We’ll have a better idea on the exact number and confirmations of tornadoes (Tuesday).”
As of 6:30 p.m. Monday night, there were reports of damage to homes, barns and power lines, but no injuries had been reported, said Keli Cain, public information manager for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. Some roads closed due to damage and flooding, as well, and Cain said damage assessments were still ongoing.
“The level of preparedness for (Monday) has been excellent,” Cain said. “Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management has been in contact with other state agencies and local emergency managers since late last week and over the weekend. A lot of different agencies have their resources on standby in the event that there’s a resource request and those items are needed.”
To prepare for the severe weather, Oklahoma City opened its underground Multi-Agency Coordination Center on Monday afternoon as an information clearinghouse for emergency responses to be staffed by representatives from multiple city departments, natural gas and electric utilities and more.
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Oklahoma City also postponed Monday’s trash and recycling pickup until Wednesday. Tuesday’s trash pickup will be delayed by an hour, officials said.
At Will Rogers World Airport, flights were canceled from American Airlines and United Airlines, among others, to protect aircraft from damages and to deter possible long delays. Covered parking in garages and lots also filled up early in the day, said airport spokeswoman Karen Carney.
Some school districts, including Oklahoma City, Putnam City, Moore and Deer Creek, canceled classes Monday. The University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University also closed their campuses.
Tinker Air Force Base canceled events, encouraged employees to take a day of leave and evacuated aircraft over the weekend in anticipation of the severe weather.
Greer County Emergency Management Director Glynadee Edwards said the tornado that hit west of Mangum about 5:15 p.m. Monday caused some damage and knocked out power in the city. Some houses were hit, but officials were still surveying the damage and determining whether there were any injuries Monday night, Edwards said.
At Mangum Regional Medical Center, 15 patients and 17 employees took shelter in a safe area inside the hospital. Lynda James, a licensed practical nurse, said they couldn’t see or hear anything but the siren from where they were, but she was getting text messages Monday night about damage on the west side of Mangum.
Andrew Skidmore, Canadian County emergency management director, said a brief tornado touched down near Piedmont about 3:30 p.m. The tornado apparently moved into southeast Kingfisher County, he said.
Steve Loftis, Kingfisher County emergency management director, said he followed the tornado while it was rain-wrapped and moving through the southeast part of the county and into southwest Logan County.
"The tornado went from Okarche into Logan County and we did not see any damage whatsoever," Loftis said. "It was on the ground several times."
Staff writer Robert Medley contributed to this report.
Darla Slipke is an enterprise reporter for The Oklahoman. She is a native of Bristol, Conn., and a graduate of the University of Kansas. Slipke worked for newspapers in Kansas, Connecticut, North Carolina and Oklahoma, including a previous... Read more ›
Kayla Branch covers county government and poverty for The Oklahoman. Branch is a native Oklahoman and graduate of the University of Oklahoma. She joined The Oklahoman staff in April 2019. Read more ›