- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Oklahoma City area was hit by at least one tornado Wednesday, destroying dozens of homes and forcing two evacuations of the city’s airport as dozens of warning sirens went off throughout the area.

Grady County Emergency Services director Dale Thompson told the Associated Press that about 35 homes were destroyed in his county, on the southwestern outskirts of the state capital.

But neither he nor any other emergency official had any reports of casualties, and early TV images from more-populated parts of the Oklahoma City area suggesting nothing yet on the scale of a 2013 storm that devastated the southern suburb of Moore.

The National Weather Service declared a tornado emergency Wednesday afternoon in Moore and an emergency was declared later in Oklahoma City proper.

According to local news reports in Oklahoma City, tornados were starting to land in towns on the southern edge of the state-capital metropolis. However, video images from those areas showed only some damage to facades rather than the sort of annihilation that accompanied the 2013 storm, suggesting this twister wasn’t that powerful.

Meteorologist Michael Scotten told the Associated Press that radar images suggest an EF2 tornado with wind speeds of 113-157 mph.

The tornado-breeding storm system, typical of late-spring afternoons in “tornado alley,” already had dumped four inches of rain on central Oklahoma and forced multiple evacuations at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, one around 5 p.m. CDT and another at 7 p.m.

Tornado debris forced the closing of parts of two interstate highways and led school systems to send pupils into tornado shelters to avoid a repeat of the May 2013 Moore storm.

That May, an EF5 storm — the strongest category of twister — touched down in Moore with peak winds topping 200 mph, killing 24 people (including seven schoolchildren) and injuring almost 400.

All day Wednesday, a weather system was ripping through “tornado alley” and produced twisters in the Plains States of Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.

“We haven’t gotten any reports of damage from any of our local emergency managers yet,” said Keli Cain, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.

Numerous tornados already had hit more-rural areas.

A tornado was confirmed to have landed in remote southwestern Oklahoma after 3 p.m. Weather service meteorologist Michael Scotten told the Associated Press “we’ve had at least one confirmed tornado, for sure,” he said, adding “it’s mainly hit open areas out there.” 

National Weather Service meteorologist Angela Pfannkuch also confirmed to AP that the rural town of Roseland, Nebraska, was hit at 4:22 p.m. CDT Wednesday. About a dozen homes were damaged in the sparsely-populated area near the Kansas border.

Also, at least nine tornados hit Kansas by 7 p.m. CDT, officials said. The Republic County Sheriff’s Office said it was checking reports of damaged homes in the county, which border Nebraska in the central part of the state.

Nobody is known to have been injured anywhere else in the Plains States by 7 p.m. CDT Wednesday.

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