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Tornado touches down in Norman, Okla.; region braces for others

April 13, 2012|By Dalina Castellanos

A tornado touched down in Norman, Okla., Friday afternoon, blowing out windows at the town’s high school and knocking down power lines, as the area braced for severe weather over the next two days. 

Reports of structural damage were received less than an hour after the tornado touched down at 4 p.m. Central, said meteorologist Rick Smith with the National Weather Service. Emergency management teams were responding, though none of the damage was listed as serious, Smith told The Times.

The tornado touched down as schools were wrapping up for the day, but students from Norman High School and elementary schools were being kept inside school buildings, News9.com reported.

School buses transporting elementary students home were rerouted and were heading back to the schools.

“Right now, all the residents in the area should be in their shelter area,” said Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management spokesperson Keli Cain in an interview. “If they have a basement, underground is probably the ideal place to be.”

Residents lacking a basement or cellar should take shelter in the innermost room in their house, away from windows, she said.

The worst may be yet to come. The National Weather Service has a tornado watch in effect for the area until 9 p.m. Friday. It said: "As storms develop, they will rapidly become severe."

And, as News9 put it: "Saturday's severe risk is more significant as the upper level storm system finally moves into Oklahoma. ... Threats for Saturday will include hail to the size of softballs, wind gusts to 80 mph  and several tornadoes."

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dalina.castellanos@latimes.com

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