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May 31, 2013

Tornadoes touch down in Oklahoma, Arkansas

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — At least two tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma and another hit Arkansas on Thursday as a powerful storm system moved through the middle of the country, injuring at least nine people.

The National Weather Service reported two tornadoes on the ground near Perkins and Ripley in north central Oklahoma and another west of Oden, Ark.

All nine of the injured were in Arkansas; two of the injuries were attributed to a lightning strike in Rogers. Lightning was also believed to have started a fire at a residential complex in northwestern Indiana.

Some trees, homes and power lines were damaged in Arkansas. Emergency Management spokesman Tommy Jackson said first responders had trouble reaching a destroyed home where one person was hurt because a number of trees were blocking the road.

In Oklahoma, Perkins Emergency Management Director Travis Majors said there were no injuries or damage there. Ripley, about 10 miles east of Perkins, did not seem to have significant damage. The Payne County emergency management director did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Storms also caused problems in the western Iowa town of Onawa, damaging buildings, breaking windows, tearing awnings and blowing down trees and a stoplight. National Weather Service meteorologist Dave Fobert told the Sioux City Journal that the damage apparently was caused by a thunderstorm, not a tornado.

Thursday’s tornadoes were much less dangerous than the EF5 storm that struck Moore, Okla., on May 20 and killed 24 along its 17-mile path. The U.S. averages more than 1,200 tornadoes a year, but top-of-the-scale storms like the one in Moore — with winds over 200 mph — happen only about once per year. The tornado last week was the nation’s first EF5 since 2011.

Some strong winds blew through Moore, in suburban Oklahoma City, on Thursday, but the weather didn’t cause significant problems for crews cleaning up from last week’s tornado.

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