Oklahoma City tornado 'scours' landscape, levels homes

By The Associated Press

EDMOND, OKLA. — One of several tornadoes spawned by a powerful storm system rumbling through the Plains and Midwest has leveled several mobile homes in an area southeast of Oklahoma City.

Reports of injuries in the mobile home park near Shawnee about 35 miles southeast of Oklahoma City couldn’t immediately be confirmed.

A storm spotter has told the National Weather Service that the tornado “scoured” the landscape in the park and an area along Interstate 40.

The highway has been closed because of overturned tractor-trailers that now litter the road. Television footage showed the twister approaching an area near the Shawnee Reservoir.

Severe storms roared through the Plains and Midwest on Sunday, spawning tornadoes that damaged buildings, ripped off roofs and tossed big trucks like toys in Oklahoma.

Another tornado kicked up debris in Wichita, Kan., and a tornado was reported near Des Moines, Iowa.

There were no immediate reports of injuries caused by the funnel cloud that touched down in the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond before moving off to the northeast.

KFOR-TV showed footage of homes damaged and cars and trucks flipped from highways near Shawnee, Okla. Other video showed flashes from electrical transformers blowing out as they were hit by high winds or debris from the tornado near Edmond.

Sedgwick County, Kan., emergency management director Randy Duncan says officials are grateful for few reports of damage from a tornado that touched down near Wichita Mid-Continent Airport. He told CNN the area emerged “relatively unscathed.”

Tornado watches were posted from Oklahoma to southern Minnesota. Forecasters had been warning for days that severe storms were likely across the region.

“I knew it was coming,” said Randy Grau, who huddled with his wife and two young boys in their Edmond’s home when the tornado hit. He said he peered out his window as the weather worsened and believed he saw a flock of birds heading down the street. “Then I realized it was swirling debris.”

In Iowa, a tornado touched down about 30 miles west of Des Moines near the town of Earlham, the Des Moines Register reported. It was moving northeast at 55 mph toward Adel, according to the National Weather Service.

The National Weather Service said it was tracking a confirmed tornado near Edmond, Okla., moving east at 30 mph around 4:19 p.m. CT.

The National Weather Service described the Oklahoma City area tornado as “large, violent and extremely dangerous.”

A helicopter pilot following the storm captured footage of an apparent funnel cloud near Wellston, Okla.

The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., said there is a risk of strong tornadoes in central parts of the state Sunday.

Forecasters say the storms — which could also bring large hail and damaging winds — are expected to form Sunday afternoon and that the advised area also includes portions of Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

In central Iowa, Sunday and the beginning of the week are “the biggest chance we’ve had for severe weather since 2011,” forecasters at the National Weather Service told the Des Moines Register.