Did Lawton Have Straight Line Winds Or Small Tornadoes?
Having lived in Lawton since 2006, I've seen my fair share of bad storms. When conditions offer those staggering views, I like to hop up the gravel portion of Rogers Lane in NW Lawton to see mesocyclones sweeping up the plains. Always makes for good photos.
Big hail is always a crowd-pleaser, and it once rained so hard a river flowed down D Avenue so deep, there was nothing but white-cap waves between the radio station front door and the fire departments garage doors across the street. Honestly, it had to be two-feet deep. But this past weekend has to give even that storm a run for its money, primarily because nobody can agree on exactly what happened.
I admit I spent most of the day out in the garage doing a little organizing so that I can start a new space-requiring project. I must have tired myself out because after dinner, I fell asleep in my chair and had no idea what was going on... but the nap didn't last long until I woke up to what I thought was a bulldozer in my front yard.
It was not a bulldozer.
By the time I hopped out of my chair and walked over to open my door, I suddenly realized that the tornado sirens were going off in my neighborhood. Loud as they always are, but as the rain started blowing sideways to the west, concealing anything beyond my front porch, the sound of my local siren was drowned out by the intensity of the storm.
The weather was growling at my front door.
I checked the back door too. Even with the spotlights I couldn't see the fence, my shop, the neighbors, or even the grill at the end of the patio some twelve feet away. It was a wall of rain and extremely loud wind.
Since I always preach how important it is to have a tornado safety plan in place for every family in Lawton, I sat back down in my recliner and turned on the TV. That's my safe space. Even though it seemed much longer than some ninety seconds, it ended as quickly as it began.
There was a good minute or so of pure silence after whatever it was passed. No wind. No rain. Just silence for the moment. As the rain steadily started falling again, the "Hey, you ok?" texts started flying between all of the neighbors. Yeah, I live on a block with awesome neighbors.
Collectively we all experienced the same storm differently. Some took shelters, others sat around wishing Mother Nature would...lol... Neighbors across the street north of me said "Well, that was windy." Neighbors on the street south of me heard the same growling roar and experienced that truly awesome display of horizontal weather.
In the daylight, a block or so one way there's some leafy debris and clues to how much rain dropped Saturday night. A block or so the other way we found downed trees, partially missing roofs, a random mangled trampoline, and it's not even a rare storm story for my neighborhood. This happened in a few places across Lawton Saturday night.
The official story remains, even though it was a tornado-warned storm, alleged straight-line winds were responsible for the damages across town for now. It'll take days for officials to determine what exactly happened, and being so far outside the metro OKC area, we're not exactly high priority given the confirmed tornadoes that swept through there on the same night.
Torn roofs, overturned vehicles, uprooted trees, downed powerlines, etc... I'm not ready to believe straight-line winds were 100% responsible just yet.
I suspect we'll have a better idea in the coming days as more and more videos pop up on YouTube and Facebook. Even in the moments of weather chaos, there are those who go out of their way to document their personal experiences.