NORMAN, Oklahoma -- Small tornadoes touched down sporadically near this town south of Oklahoma City late Tuesday afternoon, leaving relatively minor damage in their wakes. But the rain and flooding continued to cause problems in this and other Oklahoma cities that were experiencing severe to extreme drought just a year ago.
By 10 p.m. Tuesday, the Mesonet at Max Westheimer Airport in Norman registered another 4.54 inches of rain. Prior to that, Norman measured 12.78 inches for the month. A normal May in Norman, based on the 30-year average of rainfall from 1981 through 2010, is 4.71 inches.
Tuesday's rains also brought Oklahoma City to within an inch of its wettest month on record. With more rain in the forecast, the city appears certain to surpass the 14.66 inches of rain it received in June 1989.
"Mostly all we see is some local flooding," District 3 Cleveland County Commissioner Harold Haralson told the Norman Transcript. "We’ve got some tin horns that are overflowing where the storm front passed through. We didn’t see any tornado damage in the road areas; that’s not to say there’s not some damage out there."
On Tuesday, water levels were high on Norman streets, resulting in many vehicles stalling and stranding motorists. While there were no reports of immediate, life-threatening water situations, Norman firefighters responded to a number of water rescue calls.
“We think it was a very intense, short rainstorm, so we’re having flash flooding reports,” Norman Public Works Director Shawn O’Leary said.
One of the most significant effects of Tuesday’s storm was the closure of a temporary on-ramp connecting State Highway 9 westbound to southbound Interstate 35. That on-ramp is a temporary ramp built for use during construction of a interchange at SH-9 and I-35. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation had closed the ramp until it can be repaired.
In Talihina, about 200 miles east of Norman, more than two feet of water poured into parts of the Choctaw Nation Health Care Center, a facility with a hospital, clinic, labs, dental service and an emergency room providing services to residents in nearly a dozen counties. The flooding forced the facility to close at least until Friday, according to the McAlester News-Capital.
Teresa Jackson, senior executive officer for health care in the Choctaw Nation, said ambulances would not be bringing patients to the center’s emergency room, instead taking them to other nearby hospitals. However, those coming to the emergency room themselves would be seen, she added.
"We are working to make sure patients' needs are taken care of," Jackson said.
Two roadways in Pittsburg County in southeastern Oklahoma were closed Wednesday due to flooding.
Sheriff Joel Kerns told the McAlester News-Capital Highway 63 near Haileyville was shut down because of standing water on the roadway. Also closed was state Highway 31 westbound near McAlester after nearly two inches of rain fell in the area overnight.
There was little relief in sight for the region, with up to three additional inches of rain predicted for the McAlester area over the weekend.
“We are expecting things to increase on Friday and last through Saturday and Sunday — several rounds of thunderstorms and heavy rain,” National Weather Service meteorologist Karen Hatfield said. “We are pretty much saturated already and we have had flooding overnight. Any additional rain is going to increase the likelihood of more flooding.”
The Norman (Okla.) Transcript contributed to this story.