Saturday, November 28, 2015

El Reno, Oklahoma Is Eplcenter Of Ice Storm Disaster

Ice storm damage Saturday in El Reno, Oklahoma.
Photo from television station KOCO. 
When I think of weather disasters, El Reno, Oklahoma comes to mind for a 2013 epic record wide tornado that was among the widest, strangest and most unpredictable on record.

That tornado was a record 2.6 miles wide at its peak, and killed eight people traveling in vehicles caught up in the huge and abruptly expanding tornado. Three experienced storm chasers were among the dead from the twister.  

It was probably and EF5 -the strongest possible - packing winds of up to 295 mph.

But the storm was categorized as an EF3 because it fortunately stayed away from El Reno proper and stayed mostly over rural farmland. So there wasn't really that much damage. Tornadoes are categorized largely by the severity of local damage they cause.

A much worse disaster unfolded in El Reno the past couple of days. As I've been reporting, a wide area of northern Texas and much of Oklahoma has been experiencing a crippling ice storm the past couple of days.

Power lines coming down in an ice storm, El Reno, Oklahoma
on Saturday. Photo via Twitter @ChanceTColdiron and KOCO
El Reno appears to be the epicenter, with the thickest ice accumulations, over an inch in many areas around the community.

The damage pattern is the opposite of that famous 2013 tornado.

Out in rural areas, slammed in 2013, there's not that many trees. Which means the heavy weight of ice on trees is a minor factor. The ice (almost) harmlessly accumulated on fallow late November farm fields.

El Reno proper has a lot of trees and powerlines lining its streets and yards, typical of communities in the Plains and Midwest.

There were lots of branches and wires for the freezing rain to accumulate upon. Which means lots of trees and power lines to collapse under the weight of the ice.

On the very bright side, I have heard of no fatalities from the ice storm around El Reno.

Still, things got really bad in town. You can tell from this video:

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