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Violent tornadoes touch down in Oklahoma, leaving thousands without power

Storm damage in Bartlesville
Public Service Company of Oklahoma
Storm damage in Bartlesville

At least eight tornadoes were reported statewide Monday night and around 30,000 customers lost power. At least one person is dead and two are unaccounted for in Osage County, Barnsdall Mayor Johnny Kelley said at a press conference Tuesday morning.

Conditions for severe weather were primed for tornadoes. According to Oklahoma Mesonet, it was the highest risk day in four years.

Social media and television crews showed chaos in Barnsdall as law enforcement closed off access to the town while conducting search and rescue operations. The town had also been hit by a tornado back in early April.

According to a social media post from a Barnsdall nursing home, the facility there “took a direct hit.” But all residents were accounted for and there were no injuries or deaths.

Kelley said 7 or 8 people were injured in Barnsdall — remarkably few given the amount of damage from the violent storm.

“I attribute that to people being weather aware,” Kelley said. “When the sirens were blown and the and the warnings were given out over their cellphones and over their TVs, they took cover and did what they needed to do to keep safe.”

A shelter was set up for people displaced by the tornado at the nearby Osage County fairgrounds. Barnsdall Public Schools also announced no classes for the following day.

Osage Nation declared a state of emergency Tuesday.

“Our hearts are heavy as we witness the direct impact of last night's severe storms and tornadoes on many parts of the Osage Nation Reservation,” Osage Nation Assistant Chief RJ Walker said in a statement. “These communities - our families - are facing a challenging time. We stand in solidarity with everyone affected.”

Damage to multiple buildings was reported in and around Bartlesville. Social media photos and videos showed a Hampton Inn on the Northeastern side of the city with damage and debris strewn about surrounding parking lots.

Washington County Emergency Management reported major damage to residential areas in Bartlesville, and to medical buildings on the Ascension St. John Jane Phillips Medical Center campus. Only minor injuries have been reported. Bartlesville Public Schools also canceled school for the following day.

A tornado warning was issued just before midnight for the southeast OKC metro. And a severe thunderstorm brought winds in excess of 70 mph, causing multiple power flashes in Norman and Moore. Power poles were damaged on the west side of Moore and almost half of OG&E customers lost electricity in Moore.

Copyright 2024 KOSU

Graycen Wheeler
Robby Korth joined StateImpact Oklahoma in October 2019, focusing on education reporting.
Logan Layden is a native of McAlester, Oklahoma. He's a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a Master's in Journalism and spent three years as a student employee, covering the state capitol and local host of All Things Considered for KGOU. Logan was hired as a reporter for StateImpact Oklahoma from its creation in 2011 through 2017.