Tornado hits Oklahoma City area in Plains outbreak
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A violent storm formed over the prairie west of Oklahoma City late Friday afternoon, dropped a tornado in a suburb and rolled toward the state capital as viewers brave enough to remain above ground watched on statewide television.
Storm chasers with cameras in their car transmitted video showing a number of funnels dropping from the supercell thunderstorm as it passed south of El Reno and toward downtown Oklahoma City. Police urged motorists to leave the crosstown Interstate 40 and seek a safe place.
The scene was eerily like that from last week, when blackened skies generated a top-of-the-scale EF5 storm with 210 mph winds, killing 24 people at Moore, on Oklahoma City's south side. However, Friday's storm appeared to be not as strong -- and it was moving north of the hard-hit community.
"They're just tooling around right now. They're starting to dissipate a little bit," said Nick Mosley, who works at the Love's Travel Stop in El Reno. Motorists packed the store as the storm approached.
Damage was reported in Canadian County, immediately to the west of the capital city. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Well before Oklahoma's first thunderstorms fired up at late afternoon, the Storm Prediction Center in Norman was already forecasting a violent evening. From the Texas border to near Joplin, Mo., residents were told to keep an eye to the sky and an ear out for sirens.
Forecasters warned of a "particularly dangerous situation," with ominous language about strong tornadoes and hail the size of grapefruits -- 4 inches in diameter.
Bad weather was also expected in parts of southeastern Kansas and southwestern Missouri. Tornado warnings were posted for remote areas of far southeastern Kansas and in the prairie well west of Oklahoma City, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. Flooding will be a concern in the mid-Mississippi River Valley through the weekend.
Flash flooding and tornadoes killed three people in Arkansas late Thursday and Friday. Three others were missing in floods that followed 6 inches of rain in the rugged Ouachita Mountains near Y City, 125 miles west of Little Rock.