Four confirmed dead from wind destruction in northeastern Oklahoma
BY JERRY WOFFORD World Staff Writer
Friday, September 07, 2012
9/08/12 at 12:10 AM
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Three people were killed in a mobile home in Nowata County and a truck driver was killed in Ottawa County when strong winds blew through northeastern Oklahoma on Friday.
The Nowata County Sheriff's Office has confirmed that three people were killed when a mobile home was destroyed in the storm Friday evening.
The victims' identities were not released, but reportedly they were two older adults and a child in a mobile home on Nowata County Road 20 west of County Road 416.
Darla Lafort of Coffeyville, Kan., who identified herself as a family member of the victims, was looking over the scene Friday night. When she arrived, she said, she wasn't sure if the home had been destroyed by a tornado or strong winds.
"It's gone," Lafort said. "There's nothing really to say."
In Ottawa County, a tractor-trailer rig turned over on the Will Rogers Turnpike near Miami, killing the driver, Miami Emergency Management Director Glenda Longan said.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported that Jimmy Carl King, 70, of Ash Grove, Mo., died in an accident caused when straight-line winds caught his truck's trailer about 4 p.m.
The trailer flipped onto its side to a concrete median wall, which caused the cab to hit the wall, pinning King.
Another truck flipped over just after 4 p.m. at mile marker 315, also in the turnpike’s westbound lanes, said Glenda Longan, Miami Emergency Management director. The driver was taken to a local hospital and was later released, she said.
The highway was closed for several hours.
Winds topped 64 miles per hour, and city crews spent Friday night clearing emergency routes and roadways, said Amanda Davis, director of communication for the city of Miami.
The storm that caused the deaths was generated by a strong cold front that blew through northeast Oklahoma. Wind gusts in excess of 50 mph were prevalent and led to power outages across the area.
Severe thunderstorms also formed along the front, leading to severe thunderstorm warnings across the area.
Winds whipped grass fires across the area, including a fire in Osage County that led to four evacuations near 52nd West Avenue and Rock School Road, said Osage County Undersheriff Lou Ann Brown. However, crews have been able to contain or slow most of the blaze, she said.
Despite continued high winds, more rain behind the front could help their firefighting efforts, Brown said.
Other smaller grass fires were reported across the area.
Winds at the Skiatook Oklahoma Mesonet site were reported to be sustained at 26 mph and gusts near 40. A gust of 57 mph was recorded at the Mesonet site in Wynona. Both locations were behind the cold front currently pushing through the Tulsa metro area.
At Tulsa International Airport, temperatures dropped from a high of 101 degrees to 78 degrees in an hour, with wind gusts of 46 mph recorded.
Tulsa County dispatchers reported numerous wildfires in the area spreading quickly due to the wind. Power lines were also reported down “all over the city.”
Scaffolding and debris from the One Place construction site near the BOK Center was blown through downtown Tulsa.
AEP-PSO Spokesman Ed Bettinger said that as of about 10:05 p.m. Friday there were 7,460 customers without power in the Tulsa metropolitan area.
He said he expects most of those customers to have their service restored during the night; however, he said, power might not be restored to all until about 4 p.m. Saturday.
Bettinger said the high winds broke several utility poles.
Statewide burn ban continues
A statewide burn ban remains in effect, according to Oklahoma Forestry Services.
Under the ban, which supersedes all county bans, outdoor campfires or bonfires are prohibited.
However, gas grills and charcoal-fired cooking outdoors in a grilling receptacle are permitted if conducted over a nonflammable surface at least 5 feet from flammable vegetation.
Coleman-type pressurized stoves are exempt. However, any fire resulting from grilling or the use of one of these cookers or stoves is still illegal, officials said.
Earlier this week, officials announced that with written permission, two exceptions -- for agricultural burning and extreme hardship -- would be allowed under the ban.
For more information, visit tulsaworld.com/burnban.
World Staff Writers David Harper and Randy Krehbiel and World Correspondent Sheila Stogsdill contributed to this story.
Friends and relatives look over the scene where three people lost their lives after storms moved through Nowata County and blew apart their home Friday afternoon. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
Twisted metal and debris near a storm shelter and swimming pool are the remnants of a mobile home where three people died Friday during severe storms in Nowata County. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
A workshop was destroyed after storms moved through Nowata County on Friday afternoon. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
Emergency crews respond to an overturned tractor trailer on the Will Rogers Turnpike in Ottawa County. Photo provided by Rebecca Baldwin.
Construction workers brace themselves against the wind as gusts greater than 50 mph whipped through downtown Tulsa on Friday afternoon. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
Scaffolding is blown away from the One Place building at the construction project in downtown Tulsa on Friday afternoon. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
A local radar image at 4:38 p.m. today shows the line of storms that came through the area. Map provided by the National Weather Service.
Construction crews look up at the One Place building as high winds move through downtown Tulsa on Friday. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
The fence around the One Place building is blown over as high winds move through downtown Tulsa on Friday. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World