More than a dozen tornadoes were reported Monday in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and Missouri, as an evening of very active severe weather also brought large hail, high winds and flash flooding across the southern Plains and Midwest. The threat was expected to continue overnight.
Flooding was reported Monday night in Ponca City in northern Oklahoma, where a police dispatcher told weather.com that water was coming into the police department building.
There were also reports of flooding in nearby Medford, as well as in Cowley County, Kansas, south of Wichita. Several local roads were closed. Flash flood warnings and advisories were in effect for much of northern Oklahoma and southeastern Kansas.
Search and rescue teams and swift-water rescue personnel were standing by if needed, the Oklahoma Office of Emergency Management said in a statement Monday night.
The storms kicked into high gear Monday afternoon and evening, with tornadoes touching down in several parts of Oklahoma and Texas. A roof was blown off a small apartment building in Mangum in southwestern Oklahoma, according to Greer County Emergency Management Director Glynadee Edwards. Damage was also reported to at least one home, as well as a high school building and softball field. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
‼️Heartbroken for our friends in Mangum. Ag Barn hit by tornado… at least two pigs killed. Three homes destroyed. No humans seriously hurt. Roof taken off apartment building. Several power lines down. pic.twitter.com/HY4mGF51d6— Abigail Ogle (@KOCOAbigail) May 21, 2019
Tornadoes were also reported in Odessa, Texas, as well as Cherokee County, Kansas, and Barton County, Missouri. Earlier, two tornadoes formed simultaneously near the town of Crescent, Oklahoma. A tornado in Paducah, Texas, was also among the multiple twisters spotted.
3:57 PM – We know have TWIN tornadoes northwest of Crescent in far western Logan county, north of OKC. Both of these are currently on the ground. Storm is moving northeast at 35 mph toward Mulhall. #okwx @NEWS9 pic.twitter.com/fAkqaGemmZ— Matt Mahler (@themahler) May 20, 2019
What a sight:
A water spout on Grand Lake in northeast Oklahoma reportedly damaged boats and docks in the area.
WATER SPOUT! Check out this video from Grand Lake… water is being pulled from the lake and into the air, forming a water spout.— Tulsa's Channel 8 (@KTULNews) May 20, 2019
(Video courtesy Jamie Pruitt) pic.twitter.com/RcDUDeYKco
The city of Moore, Oklahoma, closed all city offices at 1 p.m. A tweet from nearby Tinker Air Force Base recalled a deadly tornado that struck Moore, exactly six years ago Monday. That storm killed 24 people and destroyed more than 1,000 homes.
Six years ago #TeamTinker came together to help pick up the pieces of a city left in ruins. An EF-5 tornado ripped through Moore, killing 24, injuring hundreds and leaving thousands of homes destroyed. pic.twitter.com/RRT2YukkVo— Tinker AFB (@Team_Tinker) May 20, 2019
Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City, is one of several cities and counties that canceled classes or shut schools down early.
John Burruss, athletic director at Westmoore High School, told weather.com that memories of the 2013 tornado, as well as an outbreak in 1999 that killed 36 people, were fresh in the minds of both officials and residents.
“Wherever you are, mother nature is always there, and you just prep and you live and you do,” Burress said. “This is home, and this is what we do. And hopefully we don’t have to go through another event, but if we do, we are strong, we rebuild, we take care of each other.“
Ahead of Monday’s storms, Tinker AFB evacuated all aircraft off the base and flew them out of the state. A Facebook post said the base commander also authorized liberal leave for base personnel.
The University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and schools in Oklahoma City all closed Monday, as well districts in and around Abilene, Texas. Abilene city offices shut down at 1:30 p.m.
Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City warned that passengers should be prepared for flight delays and cancellations.
The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center warned that western and central Oklahoma and parts of the Texas Panhandle are at high risk of tornadoes. In addition, there is a high risk of flash flooding and also hail and high winds.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office announced the State Emergency Operations Center had been activated and the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management is in communication with city, county, tribal, and private sector emergency managers and other partners across the state.
I’d certainly label this “the nightmare scenario." pic.twitter.com/Ut4zzP5KPx— Mike Smith (@USWeatherExpert) May 20, 2019
The rare, SPC high risk threat of tornadoes Monday provoked a great deal of discussion among meteorologists on social media.
For those in Texas and Oklahoma: This is no joke. I just looked at models & some soundings from this morning, and this threat nothing to mess with. Heed all warnings that may be issued. Be sure to have an app and/or weather radio on standby to receive warnings. pic.twitter.com/IVwEfjF91K— Charles Roop (@CharlesRoopWCTV) May 20, 2019
Patrick Marsh, a meteorologist with the NWS Storm Prediction Center, shared a 17-tweet thread in which he said it’s important to prepare for the possibility of tornadoes but don’t panic.
“A healthy dose of fear is reasonable and nothing from which to hide. However, at this time, there is nothing about which to panic,” he wrote.