These organizations are within 45 minutes of Oklahoma City and greatly aid OKC, OK and the nation in weather observation, prediction and reporting.
National Severe Storms;Laboratory
The National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) is perhaps thenation’s premiere organization involved in studying tornadoes. Charged withworking to improve the lead time and accuracy of severe weather warnings andforecasts in order to save lives and reduce property damage,
STORM PREDICTIONCENTER (SPC)A branch of the National
Centers for Environmental Prediction,the Center monitors and forecasts severe and non-severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and other hazardous weather phenomena across the United
States. Formerly known as the Severe Local Storms (SELS) unit of the NationalSevere Storms Forecast Center. For further
information, contact the SPC, located in Norman, Oklahoma.
SHAW The story below on this weeks Ok tornado. At end of article is information on the worst tornado ever to hit Oklahoma. It was in May 1999. With VIDEO.
Forecasts,TV and Luck eased Tornado damage in Oklahoma City and Ok
By KRISTI EATON and CHUCK BARTELS
PIEDMONT, Okla. (AP) – When three tornadoes marched toward Oklahoma City and
its suburbs, thousands of people in the path benefited from good forecasts, luck
and live television to avoid the kind of catastrophe that befell Tuscaloosa,
Ala., and Joplin, Mo.
Even though more than a dozen people died in the latest round of violent
weather, schools and offices closed early, giving many families plenty of time
to take shelter. And even stragglers were able to get to safety at the last
minute because TV forecasters narrated the twisters’ every turn.
“We live in Oklahoma and we don’t mess around,” Lori Jenkins of Guthrie said
after emerging from a neighbor’s storm shelter to find her carport crumpled and
her home damaged.
The people of Oklahoma City, which has been struck by more tornadoes than any other U.S. city, knew the storms were coming. Anxiety was perhaps running higher
than usual after last month’s twister outbreak in the South that killed more
than 300 people and a Sunday storm that killed at least 122 in Joplin, Mo.
The Oklahoma twisters proved to be weaker than the other tornadoes. But theminute-by-minute accounts of the developing weather helped thousands of people
stay abreast of the danger.
Television helicopters broadcast live footage while the system approached the
metropolitan area of 1.2 million people – calling out to specific communities
like Piedmont to “Take cover now!”
In Guthrie, about 30 miles north of the capital city, Ron Brooks was watching
when he learned that a tornado was barreling toward him. He heeded the weatherman’s warning, scooped up e his two children and took cover with his wife
in their laundry room.
“When they told us to get into the shelter or interior room, we did that,”
Brooks said. “The first year I moved to Oklahoma, in 1997, I saw a funnel drop
out of a wall cloud. Since seeing one, I’ve always taken it pretty seriously.”
He emerged 20 minutes later, relieved to learn that the tornado passed just
north of his home.
Forecasters said another line of severe storms could sweep through the
nation’s midsection Wednesday, mainly east of Oklahoma. A tornado warning was
briefly issued for downtown Kansas City, Mo., and at least two weak tornadoes
touched down in or near the suburbs.
Afew others were reported in Illinois. The storms were expected to move into western Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi later in the day.
In Joplin, rescue and recovery work went on Wednesday, with crews repeating
grid searches for any survivors who might still be buried in rubble. Structuralengineers were sent inside the ruins of St. John’s Medical Center, which wascrippled by the twister, to see if the hospital could be saved.
Back in Oklahoma City, broadcasters offered live coverage of the storms for
two hours before the bad weather actually hit around the evening rush hour.
But across the border in Arkansas, people in the tiny hamlet of Denningdidn’t have such a luxury. A tornado killed at least one person there. Stormsleft three others dead elsewhere in Arkansas and killed two in Kansas.
The storms arrived in Denning in the darkness, with a warning posted only
about 10 minutes before a tornado nearly obliterated the town of 270 shortly
TroyEllison didn’t even have that much time.
He was watching a movie in his mobile home when he switched on the TV news.
The tornado was four minutes away.
“We were going to take the work truck and get out,” Ellison said. “I looked
out the back door with my son and it was coming.”
He dove under the kitchen table with his wife and two sons just before the
tornado hit. “It got that growling sound and the windows popped,” he said.
The tornado ripped the roof off his home and collapsed his workshop next
door. Somehow, the family escaped unharmed.
Then Ellison went outside and saw the family dog, Jager, his paws splayed out on the
ground. The animal “looked like someone stepped on him.” Ellison assumed he was
But the dog, a pit bull-boxer mix, turned out to be fine. By Wednesday, he
was prancing around in the sun as the Ellisons moved belongings out of their
“He must have known to stay low to the ground,” Ellison said.
Oklahoma City has been hit by tornadoes 146 times, according to the federal
government’s Storm Prediction Center. That history brings respect for severe
storms and a simple rule for people who find themselves in a twister’s path: Get
out of the way or get underground.
“I think Oklahomans, simply because we’re around it so much, take very
seriously the threat of severe weather. It’s something we live with year-round,”
said Michelann Ooten, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Emergency
Management. “We have a genuine respect for the severe weather here.”
Part of that comes from learning to deal with bad weather at a young age, Ooten said.
The long track of the storm in Piedmont gave Lynn Hartman’s family time to
take shelter and then run away. As warning sirens sounded, Hartman said, she
huddled in the pantry of her Piedmont home with her two children and the family
dog until her husband arrived home from work.
“We’re there just crying and praying,” Hartman said, and her daughter,
Sierra, 10, was saying repeatedly, “I just don’t want to die.”
The family then decided to flee as the storm drew closer. They crossed the
Oklahoma City area to Shawnee. Once there, sirens sounded again for a storm
approaching from the south. The four drove around for three hours before
returning to find their roof gone. The pantry was standing, but Hartman was not
convinced the family would have survived.
Ooten said trying to outrun a tornado is dangerous.
“Find the sturdiest building you can gain access to,” she said. “Unless
you’re an expert, I wouldn’t try to outrun a tornado. You’re not in charge.
Mother Nature is the one in charge.”
MAY 3 1999 Worst Tornado ever to hitOklahoma
The 1999Oklahoma tornado outbreak was a severe
weather event that lasted from May 3 until May 6, 1999 and brought violent
storms to Oklahoma,
Kansas, Arkansas, Texas, and Tennessee.
This article concentrates on the events on May 3, when 66 tornadoes broke
out in Oklahoma and Kansas. The most significant tornado first touched down
southwest of Chickasha, Oklahoma, and became an F5 tornado before dissipating over Midwest City, Oklahoma. The tornado torethrough Bridge Creek, Oklahoma, OklahomaCity, Moore, Del City, Tinker Air Force Base and Midwest City, Oklahoma, causing $1.1 billionin damage. Forty-eight people perished during the outbreak.This tornadic event ranks in severity with the Palm Sunday tornado outbreak of1965. With a total of 66-74 tornadoes, it was the most prolific tornadooutbreak in Oklahoma history, although not the deadliest.
MAY 3 1999
F5 Tornado In excess of 318MPH
This tornado’s remarkable wind speed (at the high extreme of the Fujita
Scale‘s F5) led to much speculation that the scale would be
modified to include an F6 category, due to the winds possibly exceeding 318 mph (512
km/h). This speculation ignoredthe fact that the Fujita scale measures damage rather than windspeed, since the
scale was developed prior to the introduction of Doppler weather radar.Windspeed estimates associated with the different categories represent thespeeds scientists believe are required to produce that damage rather than thewindspeed in that particularstorm. The damage caused by an F5-designatedtornado leaves very little room for a higher category.
The tornado was the last official F5 to hit the United States with the old
Fujita scale rating. The next category 5 tornado occurred on May 4, 2007 in Greensburg, Kansas during the May 2007 Tornado Outbreak and killed 11
people. Since February 1, 2007 the National Weather Service has used the Enhanced Fujita Scale to rate
tornadoes, and the Greensburg tornado was recorded as the first EF5
tornado. This tornado, however, is not the last category 5 tornado to be rated
on the Fujita scale, as Canada still uses the Fujita scale, and a tornado that
occurred in Manitoba in June 2007 was rated an F5.