Tornadoes rake Oklahoma as Midwest tallies damage - East Valley Tribune: Nation / World

Tornadoes rake Oklahoma as Midwest tallies damage

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Posted: Sunday, May 25, 2008 3:09 am | Updated: 9:06 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

OKLAHOMA CITY - A slow-moving storm packing tornadoes and hail battered rural Oklahoma on Saturday, destroying several buildings, tearing up trees and tossing a mobile home onto a highway. The bodies of two storm victims were found in Kansas.

A twister destroyed three barns at a hog farm near Lacey in Kingfisher County, about 75 miles northwest of Oklahoma City, said Michelann Ooten, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Emergency Management Department.

No injuries were reported at the farm or elsewhere in the state.

"It's all been out mostly in the countryside," Kingfisher County Sheriff's dispatcher Lonnie McDade said. "But that farm happened to be in the path and took a direct hit."

John Hardaway, a production manager at the farm, said the 3,900 pigs housed at the farm were kept in crates and most were not hurt.

In Garfield County, a trailer was blown onto State Highway 74 near Covington and power lines were downed, said the county's emergency manager, Mike Honigsberg.

The pace of the storm was slow for a system producing so many tornadoes, Daryl Williams, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Norman.

"It gives us time to get the warnings out, but where the tornadoes are on the ground, it creates a lot more damage," Williams said. "We've been lucky because this has been mostly rural areas, but it's not lucky if it's your farm."

Saturday's storm followed two days of violent weather in the Midwest. In Kansas, cleanup was under way a day after a storm system raked the state with at least 17 tornadoes.

That storm killed at least two people, injured at least six others and heavily damaged at least 19 homes, authorities said.

The two people killed in the storm were found Saturday in a car near Pratt, the Pratt County Sheriff's Office said. The vehicle had been blown 150 yards off a highway. Gary S. Whitlow, 33, and Kimberly S. Whitlow, 29, died.

Authorities are looking into whether lightning killed a camper in Osage County.

A Kansas Highway Patrol aircraft flew along the path of the tornado to search for other possible victims.

In northern Colorado, where a tornado struck Thursday, killing one person and damaging hundreds of homes, residents of the hard-hit farming town of Windsor were allowed into their neighborhoods Saturday to assess the damage and in some cases, salvage what they could.

"Our house is not too bad," said Courtney Schinner. "Our roof is gone, a lot of windows are blown out, but the interior is OK.

"We got really lucky compared to a lot of people," she said as she gathered her valuables and prepared to move into a hotel while her apartment is repaired.

Officials advised residents of the dangers in the area: exposed electrical wires, severed gas lines, nails, broken boards and other debris.

Of the 596 homes officials said were damaged by the Colorado storm, 102 were deemed unsafe to occupy.

About 100 people have died in U.S. twisters so far this year, the worst toll in a decade, according to the weather service, and the danger has not passed yet. Tornado season typically peaks in the spring and early summer, then again in the late fall.

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