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Hurricane-force storm hits Tulsa

The city of Tulsa was cleaning up after a hurricane-force storm destroyed homes and knocked out power to thousands.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Power should be restored Thursday morning to all customers who lost electricity in a hurricane-force storm that struck midtown Tulsa, according to American Electric Power-Public Service Company of Oklahoma.

A brief, intense storm struck about a 2-square-mile area of the city Tuesday morning. Its wake left some 13,000 customers without power. The number without power was down to about 3,100 Wednesday, with more houses coming online during the day, AEP-PSO spokeswoman Andrea Chancellor said.

"It has been a lot of working and a lot of waiting," Chancellor said.

Crews first had to restore a neighborhood transmission line and then started work on the numerous distribution lines blown down Tuesday, she said. The utility had about 300 people repairing storm damage.

Churches, the Tulsa fairgrounds and dozens of homes were damaged, along with the area's utility poles when a storm collapsed over the area. In an event meteorologists call a "microburst," the energy built up in the storm makes an intense downdraft in an area less than 2 miles wide. Peak winds last less than five minutes, according to the National Weather Service.

Microbursts can spur wind shear, which can cause aircraft to crash and damage property on the ground.

The microburst that struck Tulsa on Tuesday created winds up to 85 mph.

"We have not seen a storm that significant in such a concentrated area," Chancellor said.

One of the bigger problems repair crews faced was the mild weather later in the day on Tuesday. People in a 60-square-block area had been cautioned by a public address system to stay in their homes because of concerns over live power lines on the ground. As the sky cleared and the air warmed, those people came outside to watch the cleanup.

"We're very fortunate that nothing happened," Chancellor said. "That was a potentially very dangerous situation."

Along with damaged homes, the storm folded over a Ferris wheel at Bell's Amusement Park and dropped debris on a water park.