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Central Oklahoma counties setting tornado records before halfway point in 2023

A building damaged at Oklahoma Baptist University
Graycen Wheeler
A building damaged at Oklahoma Baptist University after April 19, 2023 storms.

Oklahoma is in tornado season for a bit longer — and so far this year, it’s been pretty busy.

According to the Oklahoma Climatological Survey’s Mesonet, both Cleveland and McClain Counties have already broken records for the number of tornadoes in a calendar year.

Cleveland County has seen 13 tornadoes, while McClain saw 11 tornadoes. The previous records there were both over a decade old.

It was busy in that part of the state last month. Cleveland, McClain and Pottawatomie Counties saw more than two dozen tornadoes combined. A storm in mid-May dropped at least 11 funnels.

Back in April, an outbreak of tornadoes through Central Oklahoma killed three people and leveled homes. The tiny town of Cole took a direct hit. Those storms even punched holes into several buildings at Oklahoma Baptist University and knocked out power for people in Shawnee for days.

So far this year, Oklahoma has had a total of 50 tornadoes. In 2022, the state had 57 twisters.

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Kateleigh Mills was the Special Projects reporter for KOSU from 2019 to 2024.
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