An intense storm system that weather forecasters labeled "particularly dangerous" swept through the Southern Plains Monday, spawning a few tornadoes that caused some damage and a deluge of rain but no reports of injuries.
The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center has parts of Texas and Oklahoma in a "high risk" zone for severe weather, the first time such a designation has been made in two years. The high-risk zone is meant to warn about weather events that are “long-lived, very widespread, and particularly intense.”
As predicted, some tornadoes were reported early Monday evening, although they were in sparsely populated areas. Oklahoma residents were on alert as Monday is the sixth anniversary of a massive tornado in Moore, south of Oklahoma City, that killed 24 people.
A tornado struck western and northern portions of the southwestern Oklahoma town of Mangum on Monday afternoon. Glynadee Edwards, the Greer County emergency management director, says some homes incurred roof damage and the high school's agriculture barn was destroyed, but the livestock survived.
"The pigs are walking around wondering what happened to their house," she said.
Emergency officials reported a tornado near Lucien, in northern Oklahoma, severely damaging a house and destroying a barn. One storm cell near Crescent, 32 miles north of Oklahoma City, spawned twin tornadoes.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has also ordered the Texas State Operations Center to Level III (increased readiness) for this weather event so the state stands ready to assist should this latest severe weather system cause damage across the Lone Star State.
"With severe weather and tornadoes approaching, the state of Texas is taking all necessary precautions to keep Texans safe, including providing local officials with the resources they need during and in the aftermath of these storms," said Governor Abbott. "This coordinated response between local and state officials will better protect Texans and mitigate any potential damage from severe weather. I strongly encourage all Texans in the storm's path to pay close attention to weather reports and heed all warnings from local officials."
In addition to placing multiple aviation assets, boats, and personnel on standby across the state, Governor Abbott today activated elements of Texas Task Force 1 and 2 for rapid deployment to the Texas Panhandle. The Texas Panhandle, Texas Southern Plains, and North Texas regions are facing the greatest threat for severe weather, including tornadoes and hail.
The latest forecast from SPC has increased the tornado probabilities from 30% to 45% from northwest Texas into central Oklahoma.
School districts in Oklahoma City, nearby Norman and elsewhere canceled classes as forecasts also call for hail and wind gusts of up to 80 mph in Oklahoma. A flood watch is in effect for the greater Oklahoma City region. Strong winds and hail also are forecast for West Texas where school districts in Abilene and elsewhere were sending students home early.
Tinker Air Force Base near Oklahoma City evacuated several planes to other military installations in anticipation of storm damage. Meanwhile, state workers in several Oklahoma counties were being sent home early on Monday, the sixth anniversary of a tornado in Moore, south of Oklahoma City, that killed more than 20 people.
The National Weather Service placed several counties under a tornado watch, calling it a "particularly dangerous situation." The weather service said the storm system will move later Monday into western Arkansas. The threat of severe weather will continue into Tuesday.
It's the latest round of severe weather to strike the region after a spate of tornadoes raked the Southern Plains on Friday and Saturday, leaving widespread damage and some people injured.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.