Oklahoma declares state of emergency after severe weather outbreak


On Saturday, April 29, 2017, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for all 77 Oklahoma counties due to severe storms, flooding, straight-line winds, tornadoes and snow impacting the state.

The massive storm system has delivered widespread rain and high winds across much of the state since Friday, April 28, with damage to power lines and power poles as well as trees, roofs and structures. At one point, over 80 000 customers were without power as winds as high as 100 km/h (62 mph) hit central Oklahoma. In the Panhandle, more than 100 mm (4 inches) of snow has been reported in some areas.

Kristy Yager, Oklahoma City spokeswoman, said storms caused damage across the city, with the most serious problems being downed trees and power lines blocking streets. "Homes and businesses were damaged, too," she added. More than 40 000 people were without power in the metro area early Saturday. Damage was particularly noticeable at the fair park, where the arch had been crumpled from strong winds and trailers were overturned in parking lots, NewsOK reported.

Parts of Oklahoma and Logan counties had seen more than 76.2 mm (3 inches) of rain as of 17:50 local time Saturday. More than 122 mm (4.8 inches) of rain had fallen in Weatherford and more than 160 mm (6.3 inches) of rain had fallen in Tahlequah, according to the Oklahoma Mesonet weather network. Several inches of snow were reported in the Oklahoma Panhandle, where temperatures hovered just below freezing Saturday morning.

Heavy rains and severe storms caused damage and forced water rescues throughout the state on Saturday, KJRH reports. The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management provided the latest information on damage and rescues:

Adair County Emergency Management reports significant flooding. They have conducted one water rescue today and have issued evacuations for 6 – 8 people and opened a shelter at the Chewey Community Center in Chewey Oklahoma.

Caddo County Emergency Management reports one mobile home destroyed, three homes damaged and numerous barns damaged. One airplane was destroyed. Three people were treated and released for storm-related injuries.

Cherokee County Emergency Management reports widespread flooding in Cherokee County, with at least 14 water rescues. A mobile home park in north Tahlequah has been evacuated.

Kingfisher County Emergency Management reports wind damage east and west of Highway 81, including structure damage. Damage includes trees down, broken windows, and roof damage. One travel trailer was overturned due to high wind.

Leflore County Emergency Management reports damage west of the town of Cameron due to storms Friday night. Baseball-sized hail, power line damage and damage to one mobile home was reported.

Ottawa County Emergency Management reports one large barn damaged, several additional structures destroyed and numerous trees and power lines are down.

Rogers County Emergency Management reports several trees have fallen onto homes in Sequoyah Hills causing roof damage.

Fallin’s executive order allows state agencies to make emergency purchases related to disaster relief and preparedness. It is also the first step toward seeking federal aid should it be necessary.

A second executive order temporarily suspends the requirements for size and weights permits of oversized vehicles that are transporting materials and supplies used for storm relief. The state of emergency lasts for 30 days.

Featured image: Winds damage after a severe storm hits Oklahoma on April 29, 2017. Credit: KDR Media

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