UW softball team forced into shelter by Oklahoma tornados
The University of Washington softball team was forced to evacuate to a shelter Friday as several funnel clouds touched down west of Oklahoma City on Friday evening, with TV video capturing one violent tornado on the ground.
Tornadoes rolled in from the prairie and slammed Oklahoma City and its suburbs on Friday, killing a mother and baby and crumbling cars and tractor-trailers along a major interstate.
The broad storm hit during the evening rush hour, causing havoc on Interstate 40, a major artery connecting suburbs east and west of the city. To the south, winds approaching 80 mph were forecast for Moore, where a top-of-the-scale EF5 tornado killed 24 on May 20.
Floodwaters up to 4 feet deep hampered rescue attempts and frequent lightning roiled the skies well after the main threat had passed to the east.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Betsy Randolph said troopers found the bodies of a woman and an infant near their vehicle. Randolph said it’s not known if the woman was driving into the storm when it hit around 7 p.m. Friday.
Emergency officials reported numerous injuries were reported in the area along I-40, and Randolph said there were toppled and wrecked cars littering the area. Troopers requested a number of ambulances at I-40 near Yukon, west of Oklahoma City.
Hail and heavy rain pelted the metro area to the point that emergency workers had trouble responding to “widespread” reports of injuries.
“We’re scrambling around,” said Lara O’Leary, a spokeswoman for the local ambulance agency. “There is very low visibility with the heavy rain … so we’re having trouble getting around.
“The damage is very, very widespread.”
Standing water was several feet deep, and downtown Oklahoma City looked more like a hurricane had gone through than a tornado.
Tornado warnings were also posted Friday night near Tulsa and near St. Louis.
About 1,000 passengers at the Will Rogers Airport evacuated passengers to an underground tunnel until threat passes, KFOR-TV reported. No flights are arriving or departing.
The UW softball team is in Oklahoma City for the College World Series. They tweeted a picture from their hotel shelter saying everyone is fine and accounted for.
“Holding tight in the basement, along with all the other teams. All accounted for and staying safe,” said the tweet.
According to www.gohuskies.com, the UW vs. Tennessee game will now be played on Saturday at 9 a.m. PT.
A storm May 20 at Moore killed 24 people, including 10 children. Moore borders Oklahoma City’s south side.
The Associated Press contributed to this story