NORMAN, Okla. – An overnight batch of severe storms spawned an EF1 tornado that tore part of a casino roof off in central Oklahoma during a concert and downed power lines and trees throughout the state, emergency managers said Sunday.
The twister touched down in Cleveland County, one of several counties where National Weather Service officials were surveying damage after reports of as many as four tornadoes late Saturday. No injuries were reported.
Part of the Riverwind Casino’s roof was ripped off in Norman during a Beach Boys concert Saturday. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who was among those attending the show, told KWTV that there was “this huge flood of rain coming through the roof” and she had to be evacuated from the casino twice.
Casino operators said in a statement Sunday that they had no time to alert guests before the storm hit the property because it happened at the same time that the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for the area. The casino has no electricity and parts of the property are closed off while repairs are made, spokeswoman Kym Koch said. Reservations were canceled through at least Tuesday, she said.
“Like all Oklahomans, we know that weather events such as this can hit without warning and unfortunately, that is what happened at Riverwind last night,” Koch said.
Meteorologists classify an EF1 tornado as one capable of producing winds up to 110 mph, said Keli Cain, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. She said other businesses, including a hotel, also were damaged along with cars and trucks during the storms.
National Weather Service meteorologist John Pike said officials were surveying Tillman, Comanche, McClain and Seminole counties, where the tornadoes and damage were reported. Forecasters had issued eight tornado warnings as the storms developed Saturday evening ahead of a cold front.
Since most of the storms hit rural or remote areas, widespread damage was minimal, Pike said.
“Anytime we walk away like that, you can say we dodged a bullet,” he said.
He said the weather is expected to change again heading into the coming weekend, when the state could see its coldest temperatures yet this year and parts of southwestern and western Oklahoma might possibly get their first freeze.
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