Editor’s Note: This is the first story in a week-long series focusing on storm shelters
Having lived through ice storms, wildfires, blizzards, excruciating heat waves and, of course, tornadoes, it seems as if whatever Mother Nature pelts Oklahomans with might slow us down for a brief time, but we always get back up, dust ourselves off and go on.
Growing bigger and stronger has been the way of life for Oklahomans for decades. There is nothing better to prove that point than the May 3, 1999, tornado. We are, once again, witnessing the rebuilding process following the tornadoes that rocked the area on May 19, May 20 and May 31.
As we mark the one month milestone of the devastation that tornadoes left in Cleveland County, The Transcript is dedicating a series of articles this week to taking shelter during tornadoes. Here’s a reminder of major tornadoes that have ripped through the area in years past.
May 3, 1999
Stretching across Oklahoma and Kansas, May 3, 1999, was a day that many still reflect on. A total of 74 tornadoes touched down across the two states in less than 21 hours. At one point, there were as many as four tornadoes reported on the ground at the same time, according to the NOAA website.
Tracked for nearly an hour and a half along a 38-mile path from Chickasha through south Oklahoma City and the suburbs of Bridge Creek, Newcastle, Moore, Midwest City and Del City, the May 3, 1999,
tornado was rated a maximum EF-5 on the Fujita Tornado Scale.
Final estimates of the 1999 tornado included 43 deaths and 800 injuries. More than 8,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, and total property damage was approximately $1.5 billion.
May 8, 2003
On this historic day, two tornadic supercells produced four tornadoes during the afternoon, according to NOAA’s website.
The thunderstorms developed near and along a strong dryline which was located across central Oklahoma. It is reported that one supercell produced three tornadoes that left damage in Moore, southern Oklahoma City, Midwest City, and Choctaw. Some of the locations in Moore and southeast Oklahoma City had also been hit during the May 3, 1999, tornado. Notable damage was received at the General Motors Plant in southeast Oklahoma City.