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Thread: May 3rd, 1999 tornado.

  1. #1

    Default May 3rd, 1999 tornado.

    15 years ago today, a massive F5 tornado ripped throughout Bridge Creek, Moore, Del City, and Midwest City. Where were you when the tornado was occuring???

  2. #2

    Default Re: May 3rd, 1999 tornado.

    On the north side OKC thankful it stayed south. Now that I live near Moore I root for them to stay even further south.

  3. #3

    Default Re: May 3rd, 1999 tornado.

    In the closet, under a stairway, in our house on SW 128th st, 2 blocks directly south of Westmoore High School. In the span of about 30 seconds, all of that house was gone, except that closet. Myself, wife, 7 year old daughter and our 2 week old puppy. It was a humbling, life changing experience. To top it off, it was my birthday. Happy birthday to me.

  4. #4

    Default Re: May 3rd, 1999 tornado.

    I was a sophomore at OSU--pretty much my last semester there cause I was a horrible student. Nonetheless, a buddy of mine came up to kick it. I remember that storm specifically because we were driving south on Perkins and you could see that storm off to the southwest. It was massive! We went back to the dorms and watched the live media coverage which ensued.

    Besides that storm there were something like 70 other tornadoes that day and night. There were also the tornadoes that hit Piedmont and Mulhall. There was also a wall cloud that went over Stillwater and dropped a twister north of town. I only remember that because we went to go get Whataburger but they closed down because the tornado sirens were going off. Since we were in the drive thru and they were closing we decided to chase the tornado but it was hauling pretty fast to the NE and we weren't all about chasing with our only source of visual aid being lightning!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  5. #5

    Default Re: May 3rd, 1999 tornado.

    Quote Originally Posted by SOONER8693 View Post
    In the closet, under a stairway, in our house on SW 128th st, 2 blocks directly south of Westmoore High School. In the span of about 30 seconds, all of that house was gone, except that closet. Myself, wife, 7 year old daughter and our 2 week old puppy. It was a humbling, life changing experience. To top it off, it was my birthday. Happy birthday to me.
    Wow!! Glad you survived.

  6. #6

    Default Re: May 3rd, 1999 tornado.

    They sent us home early from work near NE 13th and Lottie hours before the storms arrived. When it approached the city, I was at home near NW 49th and Shartel scared to death it would keep going north (Big wuss that I am). I was really scared of the storms in those days. I had friends in Newcastle who I was fretting over but it turned east south of their place. When it veered east, I worried about my parents on the NE side of town. Gas lines broke, somewhere, because my whole neighborhood reeked. My folks had all kinds of debris falling in their house. I spent the evening on the internet with my husband (who was in Washington DC) raving about it. We were just friends, then.

  7. Default Re: May 3rd, 1999 tornado.

    I was in our house near SW 104th and May, watching Gary England's live video continuously since the tornado formed in Chickasha and waiting with bated breath for when it would cross I-44. Our house, at that time, was barely five months old. The darkness to the southwest was ominous and growing, and the sickening feeling grew as England started reeling off street names entirely too close to us. I turned on KTOK as the thing approached, realizing I was running out of time to make a decision about whether to pile my wife, my then three-year-old son, and one-year-old daughter into the car and over to my mom's storm cellar, about six minutes away to the east. Then I realized given where it might cross over, we could conceivably be in worse risk en route - on top of the fact that my mom's cellar had all manner of water and leakage problems and wasn't necessarily habitable. AT that point, I realized it didn't matter.

    About the time I reached the "point of no return," I heard either the TV or the radio blurt out that the tornado was now crossing I-44 near SW 149th, and I realized it was too late to attempt a dash to mom's. As calmly as I could not to incite any anxiety in my kids, I said we were going to play a hide and seek game in the bathtub, and put my son, daughter and wife in there, and pulled the mattress off my son's "big boy" bed over them. I had my son put on a little football helmet, and a baseballl cap for my daughter. We were in there for a few minutes before I finally heard the radio yelll "CROSSING AT MAY and 149th, HEADING EAST NORTH EAST," just about the time that horrendous hailstones started pounding the house. But once I heard 149th, and knew the beast was heading east, we were probably in the clear. I looked out the south window and saw the sheer blackness of the sky in that direction, and only afterword realized I could probably have seen the monster as it passed. As it cleared our area and migrated across Western, I pulled the kids out of the bathroom, and we saw the Ch 9 helicopter just a few moments later show the swath of destruction.

    We were immensely fortunate. The storm did, in fact, come drastically closer to my mom's house off Walker - less than a mile south of her was the north edge of destruction - so staying home was the right choice for us. She rode the storm out in a closet, but got the leaks fixed the next week. We rode out the May 20 and May 31 storms in that very cellar last year.

    I'm praying for a calmer May this year. For everyone.

  8. #8

    Default Re: May 3rd, 1999 tornado.

    For me, I was living on Hampton Avenue in Del City. When the tornado was on its path, my neighbor Oscar got me and 3 of my older siblings and he got us into a storm shelter down the street from my home. Not long after that, my mother and the rest of my neighbors jumped into the shelter as it was roaring into Del City. Seconds later, we emerged out of the shelter to find anything from cancelled checks to insulation falling out of the air. Then, my dad came home from work to check on my grandparents who lived on Vera Place (dangerously close to the storm). They were okay. But my Aunt Vickie wasn't so lucky. She got a direct hit from the tornado and her house was decimated by the force. Her then husband was trapped in the closet with a ton of bricks on top of him and my Aunt Vickie sent my cousins, then 8 and 6 years old, with a neighbor to be at a school nearby. She eventually found them and they stayed at my home until they found a temporary house to stay at. It took a great toll on her and though she rebuilt only a year later, she would never be the same.

  9. #9

    Default Re: May 3rd, 1999 tornado.

    In Logan County, the storm approaching Mulhall was a concern so we went to an old timey underground shelter where I met some new people with whom we'd soon be related by marriage and divorce. Five or 6 of us went all the way down, sitting around eating bananas (note: don't take bananas!). Since the storm totally missed us, we didn't even come close to closing the door. Mulhall was scattered to smithereens. In fact, the Guthrie newspaper headline, in huge bold letters, read MULHALL WIPED OUT!

  10. #10

    Default Re: May 3rd, 1999 tornado.

    I was 8 years old and all I remember was looking up and just seeing a sky full of lightning. It looked like 2 strikes every second. It was insane. My young and naive 8 year old brain knew something bad was about to happen.

    My mother is a really paranoid person. She would drive to the nearest underground parking garage when there wasn't even a tornado on the ground, or a tornado was 30 miles from our house. Our go-to spot is The Waterford Marriott parking garage in Nichols Hills. We stayed there until the storm in Moore passed by. We listened to the whole thing on the radio. Hearing Mike Morgan's voice was chilling.

  11. #11

    Default Re: May 3rd, 1999 tornado.

    SW 54th and Villa , I had sot of friends and family affected in it though. I drove as fast as I could to get as close as possible to try and help out I made it to SW 134 the and Portland when I had to park and walk in.Ill never forget that day

  12. #12

    Default Re: May 3rd, 1999 tornado.

    SE 89th and Sooner. Watched it pass from my back porch. It was that day that I acquired severe weather anxiety. I was beyond shocked when May 20, 2013 happened being that after May 3, 1999 I remember people saying that was a once-per-century event. And then 10 days later the May 31, 2013 El Reno tornado happens. I personally think that our statistics are inaccurate being that tornadoes weren't very well recorded before around 1950. In the grand scheme of things, the 1999 outbreak likely wasn't that unusual.

  13. Default Re: May 3rd, 1999 tornado.

    I was 12 years old at the time.

    My sister was in the girls scouts and was in a meeting when the tornado switched directions. They had been at Crest #1 purchasing food for families in need and were placed in the coolers. My mother and I met with other parents and children at the leaders house in east MWC. They of course survived unscathed, as did we...

    A few hours later we received a call. I remember the tone in my mother's voice changing as she spoke. No one had heard from my great grandfather or his wife Patricia. I was told my Uncle, my mother's brother, was going to check on the house and see if they had just lost power and phone service and couldn't get a hold of us.

    The house they lived in was on 15th street, across from what is now Home Depot to the south and just 1 block east of Sooner Rose Elementary. Anyone who has driven down 15th between Sooner and Air Depot knows there is nothing but an empty lot filled in with grass over the years between Sooner Rose and (formally) Twid's Sporting Goods.

    They tried to leave by car. The only thing that could cross my mind was that they tried to run north in the car, across the field behind their house. The rain that had fallen created less than desirable driving conditions for an old 80's honda sedan.

    My grandfather was found in the car, which had struck a tree dropping a branch on the roof, pinning it down against the winds. His chest had hit the steering wheel, sending him into cardiac arrest. Patricia was pulled through the window and found later across the field, under a wreckage of metal carnage.

    Friends of our family were not so lucky. They were in Bridge Creek, huddled under a staircase. Holding one another, the tornado ripped apart the house, stripping it to it's foundation. My friend broke his back and tragically lost his mother. His wife badly battered by debris, the newborn... ripped away from their arms.

    I'll never forget that day or the weeks after, volunteering in cleanup and attending funerals, memorials, and searching for lost pictures at local churches.

  14. #14

    Default Re: May 3rd, 1999 tornado.

    I was in 6th grade. The thing that always stuck out to me was how nice the day was earlier in the day. My class had a little field trip near the pond and quasi-wooded area that was next to MHS at the time. It was fun. After school, I remember we had Taco Bueno for dinner because my younger brother had a little league game and there wasn't enough time for anything other than fast food. The game was soon cancelled, of course. We lived near 12th and Santa Fe, so of course we were huddled in the closet with a mattress over us. I remember being calmer than I thought I would be. We lost power for a while. I don't think we got it back until the next day, or maybe even later. The damage in nearby neighborhoods was horrible, of course, but we were lucky. If I recall correctly, we only suffered a blown doorbell and had to retrieve a cooler on our porch that was pushed three feet from where it belonged.

    A friend of mine at the time had a little more damage to his house. According to him, his family had always went into the laundry room during tornados, but for May 3rd they went in to a closet in a bedroom. This was fortunate, as a 2x4 was blown right through the room they usually used. They might have been impaled had they been in there.

  15. Default Re: May 3rd, 1999 tornado.

    Was headed to a movie at the then new-ish theater at Quail Springs Mall. Saw the storm building to the SW (we weren't as "weather aware" back then) and switched to KTOK where the Mike McCarville was having a meltdown as the storm churned up I-44 from Chickasha.

    We decided that perhaps sitting under a clear-span roof with no outside communication during a big storm wasn't exactly the brightest thing to do, so we drove back home and watched the coverage live. We lived in the NW 63rd and Grandview area (where I had ridden out a much smaller tornado a year earlier that passed a couple of blocks north - hitting Nichols Hills and the Village - hiding in a closet), so it became apparent that we were safe. But we sat and watched in horror as live images of Moore started to be flashed on the screen. I still think it is a miracle that more people didn't die that day.

  16. #16

    Default Re: May 3rd, 1999 tornado.

    I rolled home, Jones at the time, from Guthrie, and flipped on the television. All the local channels were showing tornado coverage. I'm not sure, but I think it was around 5:00 pm or so. I was glued to the tube for the next couple of hours as helicopter cameras showed the monster grinding its way northeast and the damage it was leaving in its wake. I still remember the storm track projection wedge, with Jones right in the middle of it and an estimated arrival time of 7:00 pm. It was now about 6:30 or so, and I really didn't have anywhere to go in terms of a proper shelter. I looked around at all my stuff and bade it farewell. Fortunately, that tornado dissipated but a smaller one from the same storm took out part of Choctaw, just to south of Jones. One of the buildings hit was the library and all of its contents were strewn around parts of Eastern Oklahoma County. I had an overdue book in my possession. A few weeks later, when the library reopened in a temporary facility, I returned the book. Instead of being rewarded for rescuing the book from nature's wrath, and returning it to its home, I had to pay a fine. Somehow that just didn't seem right.

  17. #17

    Default Re: May 3rd, 1999 tornado.

    Quote Originally Posted by mmonroe View Post
    I was 12 years old at the time.

    My sister was in the girls scouts and was in a meeting when the tornado switched directions. They had been at Crest #1 purchasing food for families in need and were placed in the coolers. My mother and I met with other parents and children at the leaders house in east MWC. They of course survived unscathed, as did we...

    A few hours later we received a call. I remember the tone in my mother's voice changing as she spoke. No one had heard from my great grandfather or his wife Patricia. I was told my Uncle, my mother's brother, was going to check on the house and see if they had just lost power and phone service and couldn't get a hold of us.

    The house they lived in was on 15th street, across from what is now Home Depot to the south and just 1 block east of Sooner Rose Elementary. Anyone who has driven down 15th between Sooner and Air Depot knows there is nothing but an empty lot filled in with grass over the years between Sooner Rose and (formally) Twid's Sporting Goods.

    They tried to leave by car. The only thing that could cross my mind was that they tried to run north in the car, across the field behind their house. The rain that had fallen created less than desirable driving conditions for an old 80's honda sedan.

    My grandfather was found in the car, which had struck a tree dropping a branch on the roof, pinning it down against the winds. His chest had hit the steering wheel, sending him into cardiac arrest. Patricia was pulled through the window and found later across the field, under a wreckage of metal carnage.

    Friends of our family were not so lucky. They were in Bridge Creek, huddled under a staircase. Holding one another, the tornado ripped apart the house, stripping it to it's foundation. My friend broke his back and tragically lost his mother. His wife badly battered by debris, the newborn... ripped away from their arms.

    I'll never forget that day or the weeks after, volunteering in cleanup and attending funerals, memorials, and searching for lost pictures at local churches.
    Of all the stories of that day in the news, the baby lost in Bridge Creek always haunted me. I am so sorry about the loss of your friends and family.

  18. #18

    Default Re: May 3rd, 1999 tornado.

    A few weeks later, when the library reopened in a temporary facility, I returned the book. Instead of being rewarded for rescuing the book from nature's wrath, and returning it to its home, I had to pay a fine. Somehow that just didn't seem right.
    Hahaha. What a world, what a world.

    I know how you feel when you have no good plan but you know the storm is heading your way. Very anxiety producing for some of us. And at the heart of it, for me, is the feeling that you are being an idiot for 1) not having a plan, and 2) not getting out of Dodge ahead of time.

  19. Default Re: May 3rd, 1999 tornado.

    People always quote Bridge Creek and Moore when they remember May 3rd, but never Del City, Tinker, Midwest City, or anyone else effected up the pike.

  20. #20

    Default Re: May 3rd, 1999 tornado.

    Quote Originally Posted by mmonroe View Post
    People always quote Bridge Creek and Moore when they remember May 3rd, but never Del City, Tinker, Midwest City, or anyone else effected up the pike.
    I'll never forget that fly-over helicopter shot, lighting up an entire neighborhood in Del City, in which I did a lot of constructive carpentry work, in my younger days, even at that time, that was reduced to streets, curbs, driveways and debris. One of those lots belonged to an AWACs crewmember who was very picky, yet fair. And didn't hesitate to pay for the job I did for him and his family. I don't think he or any of his family members were casualties of this freak of nature. Other than their house, in which I invested a certain amount of time and concern. I think I still have a picture of the pre-tornado add-on we did.

    (p.s.: May 3, 1999 was also the night that Crescent took a hit and Mulhall nearly got wiped off the map. Drove through Mulhall just the other day on the way back from Pawhuska and points East. Looks like Mulhall is doing OK. Wanted to see how those Habitat for Humanity rebuild houses we helped with were holding up.)

  21. Default Re: May 3rd, 1999 tornado.

    I was arriving home from work in Dallas, turning on the TV and seeing the live footage from the helicopter in OKC as it grew to immense size around Bridge Creek. I believe I recall hearing that helicopter/cell phone/camera video was some sort of technology someone at one of OKC TV stations had put together not long before.

  22. #22

    Default Re: May 3rd, 1999 tornado.

    NW 46th & May Ave. While watching the storm on TV progress into Newcastle, I called my brother, who lives by SW119th & Penn to ask him if he was watching also. He said he was trying to decide whether to leave or take cover. I told him to get the hell out of there. Him and his wife jumped in the car and hauled tail over to I-35 and then south to Norman where he stopped to watch the storm from that angle. Later on he called me back to let me know they were ok and he was crying as he drove back through the devistation, trying to find a clear route back to his house, which wound up surviving in good shape, but had lots of debris that had carried through the air and settled around and on top of it. Up on the north side where we were, the very strong odor of natural gas carried north with the wind from the south side.

  23. Default Re: May 3rd, 1999 tornado.

    Yep, I definitely remember the odor of gas.

  24. Default Re: May 3rd, 1999 tornado.

    11th grade - we got in the car and drove up to Edmond about the time it crossed 35 and was headed towards MWC. If it hadn't made the turn it did near Tinker, it would have come directly at our house at 15th/Douglas. Quite a few of my friends were playing with the jazz band at the MCHS 4.0 banquet. The school did an excellent job of keeping everyone calm and moving them from the cafeteria to the fieldhouse basement. Only then, while the sirens were blaring, did anyone have any idea what was happening.

    My sister was in class at Rose State at one of the buildings near I-40. They had the issue of running to the basement, only be told to move because of a gas leak. Sort of difficult to do in the middle of a tornado. Her car was plastered with the tornado gunk, but thankfully, she was ok.

    My aunt and uncle lived on Char Lane (just off Reno). The neighborhood that was hit in MWC backs up to that street and they did have part of someone else's roof end up in theirs. She was fine after getting in a neighbor's storm shelter with several neighbors. So many friends in that other neighborhood had damage or lost everything. The craziest were the ones that were lifted and then slammed back down off kilter. One such person I went to school with, now owns a storm shelter company in OKC, Storm Safe.

    Everyone's got their story from that day. Much like last year, it changed everything.

  25. #25

    Default Re: May 3rd, 1999 tornado.

    I believe that was a major turning point in live storm coverage in that it was the first major tornado that actually had continuous live play by play coverage from the ground and the air for the entire length of the tornado's path. Not only is it considered normal broadcasting today, ... 15 years later, it's expected.

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