Editor’s note: This article has been updated throughout.
Bryan County Emergency Management officials said one woman was killed Tuesday night after two tornadoes reportedly touched down east of Durant, causing injuries, property damage and power outages.
Speaking from the agency’s Norman field office Wednesday morning, National Weather Service Meteorologist Alex Zwink said two severe storm cells developed outside Durant at approximately 9 p.m. Tuesday, then began to intensify as they moved east and passed the cities of Blue and Caddo.
“We heard reports in from emergency managers of damage and power outages along Boyd Road, off of (U.S. Route) 70,” Zwink said. “Another report had the Durant Fire Department out two and a half miles east, northeast of Blue, responding to injuries and roof damage out in that area. And a fairly large tornado was reported out east of Caddo.”
Bryan County Emergency Management Deputy Director Kenneth Eppler wasn’t immediately able to identify the woman killed in the storm Wednesday, but said she lived in a residence along Boyd Road.
An emergency resource center has been established at Rock Creek Elementary School in Blue, where representatives of the American Red Cross are on hand to assist with temporary housing needs and members of the Baptist Disaster Relief team are stationed to help affected residents with debris removal and cover damaged roofs.
Zwink said Wednesday it was still too early to confirm whether tornadoes were responsible for the death and damage, but Weather Service teams would survey the area and make an official determination in the coming days.
Tornadoes are ranked on the Fujita Scale, with the lowest category of intensity — an F1 — registering winds of 73-112 mph and the highest category — an F5 — generating winds of more than 200-300 mph. The U.S. is hit by about 1,200 tornadoes annually, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information. NOAA reports that, between 1991 and 2010, Oklahoma has been hit by an average of 62 tornadoes each year and most are recorded during the month of May.
Rock Creek Elementary School is located at 23072 U.S. Route 70 in Durant. The Bryan County Emergency Management office is expected to publish additional damage recovery and weather information on its Facebook and Twitter pages.
The American Red Cross can be reached by calling 800-733-2767. The Choctaw Nation Disaster Hotline can be reached by calling 844-709-6301.
Drew Smith is a reporter for the Bryan County News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.