Peak tornado season is typically in the spring, but last month proved to be the exception to the rule. After crossing the Red River and entering McCurtain County, Oklahoma, on November 4, a tornado produced what was noted at the time as at least EF2 damage, ripping the roofs off several single family homes. The 108 mph gust ranks as the fifth highest wind gust since Mesonet wind measurements began in 1994.
At the time of writing this column, the National Weather Service upgraded the tornado to an EF4. An EF4 is classified as violent, with wind speeds up to 200 mph. Based on the extensive damage, Governor Kevin Stitt declared a state of emergency for McCurtain, Bryan, Choctaw and LeFlore counties.
Choctaw Electric Cooperative, Southeastern Electric Cooperative and Western Farmers Electric Cooperative, a generation and transmission cooperative, all reported damage from the storm. Preliminary damage assessments from all co-ops indicate more than
$1.6 million in damages. Choctaw Electric Cooperative, based in Hugo, Oklahoma, sustained the most damage. At peak damage assessment, the co-op estimated more than 200 structures were broken.
Restoring power in a wide service area as safely and efficiently as possible is no easy feat. Following the principle of Cooperation Among Cooperatives, crews from Southeastern Electric Cooperative, Inc., People’s Electric Cooperative, Kiamichi Electric Cooperative and Cookson Hills Electric Cooperative, Inc. provided mutual aid assistance. All known outages were restored by November 10.
We continue to keep those who have been impacted by the storms and tornadoes in our thoughts and prayers and hope for quiet weather.
By Chris Meyers
General Manager | Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives