Tornadoes in Oklahoma, Arkansas Injure at Least Five

By Suzi Parker | May 31, 2013

Severe storms spawned a dozen reported tornadoes in Oklahoma and Arkansas on Thursday, injuring at least five people and sending residents scrambling for cover 10 days after a powerful twister killed 24 people in Oklahoma.

One tornado warning included Cushing, Oklahoma, a critical hub for the U.S. oil markets northeast of Oklahoma City, but the storm passed through without damaging tanks that store more than 50 million barrels of oil, said Bob Noltensmeyer, Cushing’s emergency management director.

The storms were not expected to taper off until later on Thursday night and more storms are expected on Friday, said Greg Dial, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center.

“Tomorrow will be round two, we will have another round of severe weather, similar area, Oklahoma into the lower Mississippi Valley area,” Dial said.

Several counties to the north and south of Oklahoma City were under tornado warnings at various times on Thursday.

Oklahoma City and Moore, Oklahoma, which were struck by the fatal EF5 tornado on May 20, were not immediately part of Thursday’s warnings but were within the forecast area for severe weather that stretched over the Plains states and Midwest.

In western Arkansas, two people were injured in a tornado near Oden that destroyed a house and downed power lines. Three others were injured in a storm north of Amity, Arkansas, the state emergency management department said.

Unofficially, there were reports of eight or nine tornadoes, mostly in southwest Arkansas near the border with Oklahoma, Dial said. The threat from the severe storms was expected to continue at least through mid-evening, he said.

“The main thing is, the intensity of the tornado probably wasn’t as high, and they haven’t hit heavily populated areas,” Dial said.

The tornado on May 20 that struck Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City, damaged some 13,000 homes. Residents of Moore were watching the storms warily. Kristen Pupek, whose neighborhood was slightly damaged, said she was going about her life on Thursday.

“The way I see it, we can’t all just sit around and worry about when the next tornado is going to hit,” she said.

Moore has been hit by four damaging tornadoes in the last 15 years, including two rated at the strongest EF5 level.

(Reporting by Suzi Parker; Additional reporting by Greg McCune in Chicago and Kristen Hays in Houston; Editing by Paul Thomasch, Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech)

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