Deadly twisters devastate OK towns

At least eight killed as half-mile wide tornado hits trailer parks, residential communities. Responders provide food and other aid.

BY JIM SKILLINGTON | OKLAHOMA CITY | February 11, 2009


At least eight people were killed and dozens were injured late Tuesday as a massive tornado tore through Carter County south of Oklahoma City.

Carter County Sheriff Ken Grace said the worst damage was in Lone Grove, a town of approximately 5,000 people, when a tornado approximately a half-mile wide plowed through the center of the town destroying dozens of houses and mobile homes.

The tornado, rated Wednesday as a strong EF4 by the National Weather Service, created devastation for 25 miles across three counties. The worst damage was in Lone Grove where it made a direct hit on a mobile home park with approximately 60 homes.

The Lone Grove tornado was one of at least four tornadoes to strike the state Tuesday.

Major storm damage was also reported in northwestern Oklahoma City and in nearby Edmond where several dozen homes were damaged or destroyed. Baseball-size hail was reported in Yukon and Guthrie.

The Salvation Army was amongst early disaster responders to offer aid to survivors and rescuers. Teams from the Army's emergency disaster services and mobile feeding units were sent to the area.

Gov. Brad Henry declared a state of emergency Wednesday in 17 Oklahoma counties.

A February tornado outbreak in Oklahoma is relatively rare. According to the National Weather Service, just 44 February tornadoes have been reported in the state since 1950. Tuesday's fatalities were the first tornado-related deaths in Oklahoma during February in almost 35 years.

As the severe weather developed Tuesday, Mike Foster, a meterologist in Norman, OK, warned the state needed to prepare for severe weather. "It's February, but we're going to treat it like May."

As the storm system moved east Wednesday, weather forecasters warned that areas of the Mid-South, devasted in last month's ice storms, could experience more severe weather.


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