May 3rd 1999 Central OK Tornadoes

3 May 2000

tornado1 (C)Cheryl-Ann Tan

Tornado Sketch by Cheryl-Ann Tan

If you want to put this pic on your site, please send e-mail.

It's one year since the devastating outbreak. The Weather Signposts presents a collection of links on the web with a touch of humanity on the tragic outbreak. The outbreak, the lessons learned, the victims... will not be forgotten.

This outbreak was, in a way, one that has left the deepest impression on me. It was the first "really big one" that I had ever heard of while I existed on this planet. I read everything on the event that I could get my hands on for almost a year. Never did I realize that there was so much to a single outbreak.

Like many, I tend to see such events as tests and lessons for people. There is a recent song which contained a line, "lessons learned and they sure run deep... don't come easy and they don't come cheap." This one wasn't cheap. In case you're new to the weather world, the Oklahoma City/Moore tornado in the May 3rd outbreak was the USA's first billion-dollar tornado. Shoddy building structures, forecasts and forecasters, warnings, precautions taken by the public... were all put to the test.

Chase accounts

Lets start here with chase logs... after all, they are the war stories from the front lines. If you haven't start looking over the links, I suggest you do that now. There isn't much else for me to say since I wasn't there myself... so I shall only make this more of compilation of links and my thoughts.

Storm Track Chase Logs
From various chasers
Central Oklahoma Tornado Intercept: 3 May 1999 by Roger Edwards
Jim Leonard's Tornado Archives
Cloud 9 Tours
May 3 by Eric Nguyen
Amos Magliocco' Chase Report
Oklahoma Tornadoes and Damage (Floyd)

Oklahoma/Kansas Tornadoes 5/3/99 from the Central Atlantic Storm Investigators


Ariel and Damage Photos

The extent of the damage was incredible. Thanks to near-record-breaking wind speeds and poor building structure.

Tornado Page
 Some damage photos from The Sages' Guildmaster
Stormshot, weather photography by Hank Baker: May 3rd
Includes aerial photos

Radar and Satellite Images

Radar Images

Violent Supercell Outbreak, May 3, 1999
Oklahoma City Tornado Data from Doppler On Wheels (DOW) Radars

 Satellite Images

Satellite derived winds from the University of Wisconsin
GOES satellite imagery from the CIMSS GOES Gallery
And excellent page, I must say!

Editorials, related issues, thoughts, ramblings etc.

From the WX Signpost:

Recently, I had a chat over the phone with a good friend and a respected radar meteorologist, Les Lemon, about the outbreak. In short, I was at a loss for words when it came to describe the billion-dollar tornado. Says Les when the tornado seemed to be making beeline for Norman, "I got really emotional,"

"...I watched it as it developed on radar and became really frightened that it would move into Norman and could hurt or kill so many of my friends," he wrote in an e-mail to me about a week later. "Fortunately the tornado turned left, away from Norman, but because it did it struck Moore and Oklahoma City. As I watched this and the other simultaneously occurring tornadoes with other tornadic storms in central Oklahoma, I actually became choked up with tears. I realized I could not be a TV meteorologist to do that."

Even watching the storms on radar was a nightmare.

Those "under-the-bridge" incidents

Then there is one more thing that I hope people will not do in the future... those "under the bridge" incidents. For those discussions on WX-CHASE... I made my opinions clear (well, relatively...) "But why show such footage [such as the video filmed by the TV crew from under an overpass during the Andover outbreak] anyway? After all it's misleading." Let me offer one simple solution: stop showing such footage-- no matter how exciting it could be. You can't see much of the storm structure if you're hiding under an overpass, so it would be worthless as a scientific video. Then why was it on National Geographic? My answer is simply: it was a big mistake! When I was new to the world of meteorology, I got the wrong impression as well! Good thing we don't get house-smashing tornadoes in Singapore!

Take a look at this site: Highway Overpasses as Tornado Shelters: Fallout From the 3 May 1999 Oklahoma/Kansas Violent Tornado Outbreak It gave me good reason to gripe about using overpasses as shelters.

More links...

Testimony Of Dennis McCarthy
Some Issues Arising from the 3 May 1999 Central Oklahoma Tornado Outbreak
 By Roger Edwards.
 What struck me was the death toll. When I learnt about the extent of property damage (which was wildly beyond my wildest imaginations), I was surprised that the number was below 100. This was due to the tornado that was too big to miss (and loud too) and the saturation of "Tornado Emergency" warnings on the airwaves. The forecasters did an excellent job. But the shoddy building constructions didn't. 
Chuck Doswell's Thoughts after 03 May 1999
 I think this is an excellent page. You'll probably not return to this page after you have clicked on the above link...
Tornado-resistant construction, Tornado safety, And reconstruction after disasters by Chuck Doswell


Thanks to all you meteorologists, chasers and the webmasters of the above links. I haven't the time to contact every one of you so I'm saying my thanks to you here... thank you. I'd also like to specially thank my good pal, Les Lemon, aka L. R. "Bucky" Lemon. Comments, suggestions, links etc, should be addressed to

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