OKLAHOMA CITY — Tornadoes rolled in from the prairie and slammed Oklahoma City and its suburbs on Friday, killing a mother and baby and crumbling cars and tractor-trailers along a major interstate.
The broad storm hit during the evening rush hour, causing havoc on Interstate 40, a major artery connecting suburbs east and west of the city. To the south, winds approaching 80 mph were forecast for Moore, where a top-of-the-scale EF5 tornado killed 24 on May 20.
Floodwaters up to 4 feet deep hampered rescue attempts and frequent lightning roiled the skies well after the main threat had passed to the east.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Betsy Randolph said troopers found the bodies of a woman and an infant near their vehicle. Randolph said it’s not known if the woman was driving into the storm when it hit around 7 p.m. Friday.
Emergency officials reported numerous injuries were reported in the area along I-40, and Randolph said there were toppled and wrecked cars littering the area. Troopers requested a number of ambulances at I-40 near Yukon, west of Oklahoma City.
Hail and heavy rain pelted the metro area to the point that emergency workers had trouble responding to “widespread” reports of injuries.
“We’re scrambling around,” said Lara O’Leary, a spokeswoman for the local ambulance agency. “There is very low visibility with the heavy rain ... so we’re having trouble getting around.
“The damage is very, very widespread.”
Standing water was several feet deep, and downtown Oklahoma City looked more like a hurricane had gone through than a tornado.
Tornado warnings were also posted Friday night near Tulsa and near St. Louis.