HOUSTON – Severe thunderstorms struck parts of Texas and Oklahoma on Monday evening, producing short-lived tornadoes — including stunning images of side-by-side twisters in rural Oklahoma — but as of early Tuesday the region appeared to have been largely spared from violent weather that had been feared by forecasters.
The warning by forecasters, issued by the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., predicted a "major severe weather outbreak" on Monday over parts of northwest Texas and western and central Oklahoma, including a series of "potentially long-track and violent" tornadoes.
By Monday evening, scattered tornadoes briefly touched down in largely rural areas in southwest and north-central Oklahoma, causing some damage but no reported injuries or fatalities. The new concern became severe flooding as a long line of sluggish storms moved east across the state and dumped heavy rainfall.
In the north-central part of the state, local television crews captured images of twin tornadoes in a rural region near the small town of Crescent. In the southwestern corner of the state near the Texas border, a tornado appeared to strike some homes near Mangum, a town of 3,000 more than 150 miles from Oklahoma City.
National Weather Service forecasters posted a message on Twitter shortly after 5 p.m., warning about the tornado near Mangum. "Take cover NOW!" a forecaster wrote.
Later in the evening, forecasters issued a tornado watch until 5 a.m. Tuesday for nearly 3 million people in Oklahoma and Texas, saying the potential remained for lime-size hail and strong tornadoes.
The Storm Prediction Center took the rare step of announcing a "high risk" zone for potentially catastrophic tornadoes, the first time in two years that the center had designated such an area. Numerous cities and towns were placed in the high-risk zone, including the Texas towns of Childress, Haskell and Snyder, as well as Oklahoma City, Norman, Lawton and Moore in Oklahoma.
In 2013, a deadly tornado devastated Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City, destroying an elementary school and killing several students. It carved a destructive path for 17 miles and killed 24 people, including 10 children. Monday's warning was particularly ominous for residents of Moore: It was the six-year anniversary of the 2013 tornado.