Videos shared to social media on Sunday show the storm’s aftermath such as downed trees and powerlines in addition to debris from ripped roofs and siding and collapsed structures. As of Sunday evening, at least 20 counties had reported damage, according to local media reports.
The severe weather is the latest in the onslaught of storms that have battered Oklahoma and parts of the southern United States over the past week. The brunt of the Saturday storm appears to have hit the Tulsa area the hardest, according to city officials.
Tulsa Police Department shared on Twitter that the damage is “significant,” and said in a subsequent Tweet that the city issued a proclamation declaring Tulsa as a “disaster area.”
Nearly 250,000 customers still did not have power as of 5:30 p.m. local time on Sunday, according to utility companies Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OGE) and Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO).
Wayne Greene, a spokesperson for PSO, told Newsweek in a phone interview that he could not provide an estimate as to when power will be restored, but said PSO expects it to take “multiple” days. He says Saturday’s severe weather caused the largest outage the company has dealt with since the 2007 ice storm.
“On our website there’s a map of our outages, and it’s just everywhere,” Greene said to Newsweek. “It’s really just the entire city of Tulsa.”
Greene referred to Saturday’s storm as “remarkable.”
“I’ve lived in Oklahoma for 60 years, and it was the most powerful thunderstorm I’ve ever seen,” he told Newsweek.
Newsweek also reached out via phone, email and Twitter to the Tulsa Office of the National Weather Service (NWS).
Numerous images and videos of the storm went viral on social media with Twitter users sharing jaw-dropping shots of lightning flashing across the Oklahoma sky, clips of a funnel cloud forming and huge hail slamming the ground.
Several videos showed parts of Oklahoma being pounded by massive “gorilla hail” – a term coined by storm chaser Reed Timmer to describe the destruction the large ice chunks cause.
Timmer, a meteorologist who also starred in the Discovery Channel reality TV series Storm Chasers, shared a video captured near Beaver, Oklahoma on Saturday. The clip shows pieces of hail as large as 5 inches.
“4-5″ gorilla hail stones west of Beaver, OK yesterday. The Dominator 3 eats these hail stones for breakfast,” Timmer tweeted.
Blake Brown, an extreme weather photographer and videographer, posted a photo showing the huge hail.
“Absolutely insane hail today!! 4″ stones and even some 5s in there,” he said.
A timelapse video of a funnel cloud forming was wildly popular, with numerous versions of the clip going viral on Twitter.
“What. A. View,” Weather Nation said.
Wind gusts, which the NWS says reached up to 80mph in certain parts of the state, were so powerful they knocked a light pole onto the University of Tulsa’s H. A. Chapman Stadium.
Tulsa police shared additional images of damage and a packed gas station and urged people to stay home.
“PLEASE STAY HOME IF YOU CAN We know many are without power, but please stay home as long as it is safe,” Tulsa police said on Twitter. “Stoplights are out, streets are congested due to four-way stop signs, power lines and tree limbs are blocking roads. Open gas stations are crowded. #TulsaPolice”
With temperatures expected to climb to the mid 90s over the next few days, the city opened cooling stations for residents without power.
“Below are important numbers and cooling station locations for anyone needing a spot to cool off or charge their phones and medical equipment,” city officials posted on Twitter. “Please take this afternoon and this evening to check on your neighbors and the elderly who may not have power and/or cell phone service.”
Published: 2023-06-19 00:51:18