The Norman Transcript

Features

May 26, 2013

What more can we do?

(Continued)

NORMAN —

In 1999, the first few flaring storms near the Red River died quickly. Near Lawton, a super-cell thunderstorm organized into the familiar anvil shape, caused by rising clouds flattening against the troposphere, and at 4:45 p.m. began spinning up twisters.

It was the ninth tornado that made the record books. A9, as it was initially labeled by the National Weather Service, arose over Chickasha and tracked northward along I-44. The National Weather Service in Norman, which already had issued a tornado warning, sent higher-level alarms hoping that people would take shelter: the first-ever “tornado emergency.”

A mile-wide mass of dirt, rain, wind and debris crossed into Bridge Creek west of Newcastle, where it shredded a mobile home community. Turning east, the twister crossed I-35 and entered Moore, where it leveled one neighborhood after another, destroying 600 homes. It creased the parking lot at Crossroads Mall and cut through Del City and Midwest City before losing steam.

A mobile Doppler radar clocked the wind speeds at 300 miles per hour, the most powerful tornado ever recorded. It was the first to cause more than $1 billion in damages.

That one tornado alone was historic. But also, with an atmosphere packed with convective energy, one super-cell after another appeared, producing 71 tornadoes in Oklahoma.

The Bridge Creek-Moore twister killed 36 people. Yet it could have been much worse. The tornado was on the ground for more than 35 miles, allowing time for warnings to be widely broadcast. The early evening time meant children already were home from school.

Every major tornado prompts a lessons-learned assessment. The first from 1999 was the danger of taking shelter under highway overpasses. Three of the 36 people killed by A9 were ripped away from those spots. Overpasses serve to tunnel tornado winds, making them faster and deadlier.

The second was the need for shelter. Like on May 20, broadcasters warned people to seek shelter in underground or above-ground safe rooms. Traditional precautions, like huddling in a bathroom or closet, were useless against a powerful EF-4 or EF-5. Mobile homes and cars are the most dangerous places to be.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Features
  • Ceremony marks opening of community center

    A July 23 ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the addition of another feature to the Chickasaw Nation Carter service campus in Ardmore....

    July 27, 2014

  • Chickasaw Cultural Center a terrific place to visit

    SULPHUR — The Chickasaw Cultural Center is a magnificent tribute to a proud people and their storied heritage. Located an easy hour’s drive south from Norman, it’s among the finest travel destinations in Oklahoma. Set on 109 scenic acres, ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Prisoner re-entry planning for offenders with mental illness

    People leaving incarceration face a variety of challenges even without a diagnosis of mental illness. But for those who face mental health issues, re-entry into society can be troublesome. That is the topic in the first of the 2014 Fall ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Exhibit takes families on food expedition

    If your palate enjoys culinary diversity or if you’re interested in introducing new flavors to your family, join the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History in tasting international delights and create your own treat during Family ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Resident makes art in new home

    There’s an old saying about a picture being “worth a thousand words,” which took on a literal meaning recently....

    July 27, 2014

  • Parents should work on themselves first

    I absolutely love it when people begin to realize that the problems they’re having with a child are of their own making; when they begin to realize, in other words, that the child is not the problem — they are. All this time (however long ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Helping cat with first veterinarian visit

    Dear Dr. Fox: A stray kitty adopted me a couple months ago and has since been tamed enough that I have found a vet to neuter him and do some much-needed dental work. My fear is that the poor boy will be so traumatized by this ordeal that ...

    July 24, 2014

  • Veterans Corner needs volunteer to drive residents to OKC VA

    Veterans Corner volunteer of the week David Sudduth has been with us for the last eight years. He is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force who served during the Vietnam War. David and his wife, Carolyn, have had their home in the Newalla area ...

    July 23, 2014

  • Low-cost and free cell phone options for thrifty seniors

    Dear Savvy Senior, What are the cheapest cell phone options available today to seniors living on a shoestring budget? I only need it for occasional calls. — Seldom Calling Senior Dear Seldom, For financially challenged seniors who only ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Harrah residents at home in restored vintage camper

    Sulphur — David Wiegert was quick to help a couple of newbie campers at the Buckhorn Campground on Arbuckle Lake in the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. What Dave offered was badly needed advice on setting up travel trailers, where to ...

    July 20, 2014