OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – A tornado grazed Oklahoma City and its suburbs Wednesday, threatening rush hour drivers and prompting schools to hold children in safe rooms until the danger passed. No injuries were reported.
The Storm Prediction Center had warned that bad weather would come to Tornado Alley. The twister damaged homes at Bridge Creek and Blanchard, southwest of Oklahoma City, but Wednesday’s storms were far weaker than nature’s worst. Torandoes were also spotted in rural parts of Kansas and Nebraska. There was no widespread destruction.
More storms were possible later in the week.
“People just really need to stay weather aware, have a plan and understand that severe storms are possible across portions of the southern Plains almost daily through Saturday,” National Weather Service meteorologist Jonathan Kurtz said.
In Oklahoma on Wednesday, Grady County Emergency Management Director Dale Thompson said about 10 homes were destroyed in Amber and 25 were destroyed in Bridge Creek.
As the storm moved to the east, forecasters declared a tornado emergency for Moore, where seven schoolchildren were among 24 people killed in a storm two years ago.
Wednesday’s storms didn’t appear to have been nearly as strong.
Ten to 15 homes were damaged at Roseland, Nebraska, near Grand Island, and between Hardy and Ruskin, near the Kansas line.
At least nine tornadoes were reported in Kansas, the strongest of them in the sparsely populated north-central part of the state. That included a large tornado near the tiny town of Republic just south of the Nebraska state line, where some homes were damaged. In Harvey County, a tornado destroyed a hog barn and damaged trees, according to the National Weather Service.
At Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, people were twice evacuated into a tunnel outside the security zone.
Tornado sirens blared across southwestern Oklahoma as a supercell thunderstorm rolled closer to the capital. By rush hour, it was bearing down on Oklahoma City’s southern suburbs.
School districts held their pupils in safe places and the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management opened its operations center in anticipation of aid requests, though none came in immediately, spokeswoman Keli Cain said.
Officials closed Interstate 44; radar images showed the storm hugging the highway as it approached central Oklahoma. Oklahoma Highway Patrol Capt. Paul Timmons says a tractor-trailer truck overturned on the interstate.
The Storm Prediction Center said bad weather was possible over the next few days, and the National Weather Service said Wednesday night it was particularly worried about flooding.
Associated Press writers Margery Beck in Omaha, Neb., and Bill Draper in Kansas City, Mo., contributed to this report.
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