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‘Multi-vortex’ tornado targets Oklahoma as storms batter Midwest region

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Severe storms and tornado warnings were sweeping across the state Wednesday following days of violent weather that damaged homes and businesses and knocked out power to thousands of people.

Many Oklahomans woke up to storm sirens as storms Tuesday night into Wednesday caused damage in western Oklahoma and prompted tornado warnings in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. Downed power lines and roof damage were reported in Clinton, about 85 miles west of Oklahoma City. Damage was also reported at the Clinton Regional Airport.

Forecasters said severe thunderstorms capable of producing a tornado were moving over the northeastern Oklahoma City area. KFOR-TV Meteorologist Mike Morgan said the storms created several tornadoes Tuesday night.

“One was a strong tornado; it was a pretty good size, cone-shaped tornado and then went over to a multi-vortex tornado,” he said.

Tornadoes touch down again in Oklahoma. Here’s the latest updates.

AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said a multi-vortex tornado is created when wind is rotating around several different, small centers within the tornado as opposed to one center of a tornado.

“Sometimes you have two or three centers that the wind is whipping around,” he said. “They can be a little more dangerous, you can have a little more damage, a couple different swaths of damage along the path of each of the vortices. But it still comes down to what the winds speeds are, more than anything.”

Towns throughout Oklahoma are still recovering after a severe storm system Sunday that brought tornadoes, heavy rain, damaging winds, baseball-size hail and flash-flooding. At least seven tornadoes had been confirmed and several others were awaiting verification, according to the National Weather Service. Thousands of Oklahomans lost power because of storms whipping wind gusts of up to 70 mph.

The storms were spreading over parts of Kansas, Missouri and Texas, Pydynowski said, adding that the front was weakening. 

“There will be thunderstorms, especially later today across Texas, but the threat may turn into a flood threat in Texas as opposed to violent storm threat.”

This has been a relatively quiet year for tornadoes thus far, and the overall number of tornadoes for 2021 is below the recent three-year average. But there have been some spikes during the spring and summer, according to the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center.

Bacon reported from Arlington, Va. Contributing: The Associated Press

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