A tornado touched down and cut a nine-mile path around the northern edges of Durant April 22.
Bryan County Emergency Management Director James Dalton said he believes the area was very fortunate.
The National Weather Service toured the damage path and determined the tornado to be a high EF-1 in strength on the Enhanced Fujita scale after calculating and reviewing data along with radar and video. That included winds between 86 and 110 miles per hour.
“We were monitoring it and it was an extremely volatile atmosphere,” Dalton commented. “Winds in the atmosphere were registering 250 miles per hour. There was a whole lot of shear with winds going multiple directions.
“It could have been way worse for the conditions, so we were very fortunate. It was good that it touched down during the daytime and our spotters were able to see it well and track it. It was moving so quickly that we had to work to stay up with it. It was probably moving 45 to 50 miles per hour.”
According to Dalton, the tornado was a quarter-mile wide at its peak. It damaged 12 houses, destroyed one house and also six barns or outbuildings and one fifth-wheel trailer.
A total of 13 power poles were snapped, leaving a reported 500 to 600 residents without electricity. Fortunately, there were no injuries reported from the rapidly moving storm.
The tornado initially touched down on the southwest corner of Lake Durant and quickly traveled due east across Highway 48 and the Silverado subdivision on the north side of Durant.
It finally lifted back into the clouds near Robinson Road, approximately four miles northwest of Blue. The most significant damage occurred when the tornado was crossing Highway 48.
“It was an HC super cell with large rotating wall cloud,” Dalton added. “Our spotters picked it up after it left Madill. It briefly touched down two miles west of the Roosevelt Bridge and roped out ,and we kept seeing funnels all the way into the Durant area before it finally came down again near Lake Durant.
“We were fortunate that it didn’t stay all the way to the ground in the whole path and it didn’t do quite as much damage as a wedge tornado would have.”
Prior to the April 22 tornado, the last tornado that touched down in Durant came in May 2016, according to the emergency management director.