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Rare August tornado in Tulsa rates an EF2

Spencer Cox / Red Dirt Report
Lots of debris in the wake of Sunday's EF2 tornado in Tulsa.
Fertile Ground Compost Service
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TULSA, Okla. -- It had been more than 50 years since this city experienced a tornado during the month of August, and the EF2 that struck the middle of the city early Sunday was officially rated an EF2 on the Fujita scale, according to meteorologists.

Damage was most severe in the vicinity of 41st Street and Yale, where a shopping center and a number of fast-food restaurants were located. While there were no fatalities, more than 30 people were hospitalized in the wake of the twister, which struck in the middle of the night.

Demita Kinard, with the Tulsa Police Department, took Red Dirt Report on a tour of the affected area, which looked not unlike a war zone, with damaged buildings and debris strewn over the entire area.

The Panera Bread restaurant looked as though a bomb had been detonated inside, while at an AT&T store, the roof was peeled off not unlike the way you open a can of sardines.

TPD had the whole area on lockdown to prevent looting, which was attempted by some at the damaged AT&T store on Sunday night. 

As of today, the power is still out in the area, with downed power lines visible in all directions. PSO and power line workers from neighboring states have been called in to restore power.

Meanwhile, Tulsa Fire Department spokesman Stan May was asked if there was an estimated time as to when power would be restored. May replied, "They are doing everything they can but there's no for sure time estimate as of now."

FORMATION

Meteorologists explained that the tornado formed over a neighborhood at 36th and Harvard streets and noved through the Southroads Shopping Center, traveling seven miles in an easterly direction toward Broken Arrow, causing major damage in its path.

The National Weather Service also reported that a second tornado - an EF1 - formed over a a neighborhood at 51st and 177th streets and that that tornado moved only three miles, causing light damage to barns, outbuildings and trees.

SIRENS?

Citizens were concerned that tornado sirens were not activated in advance of the tornado. Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum addressed this issue on his Facebook page, noting that he is aware of the "no sirens" issue and that "the tornado occurred ... so suddenly and unexpectedly." As a result, by the time the city put the siren call out, the tornado was already on its way toward Broken Arrow.

"That is what happened," Bynum wrote. "After we are done with this cleanup, the City will review our technology and protocols for initiating sirens. We will make whatever improvements need to be made to best protect Tulsans. We are lucky to have the foremost tornado prediction experts in the world right here in Oklahoma for guidance."

RECOVERY EFFORTS

For those wanting to help in the ongoing recovery efforts, the American Red Cross is coordinating volunteers via the phone number 918-831-1109.

Additionally, PSO requests that if you see any downed power lines in your area to contact them at 888-218-3919.

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About the Author

Spencer Cox

Spencer Cox is a journalist based in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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