Today is the anniversary of the Oklahoma tornado outbreak of May 3, 1999. I’m observing it by reading a very good book I picked up last weekend in Norman. The author, Nancy Mathis, was at Barnes & Noble to sign Storm Warning: The Story of a Killer Tornado. She inscribed the flyleaf of my copy, “Stay safe and best wishes”, good advice for this time of year. With all the storms we’re having right now and me being the jumpy type to begin with I should really wait until winter to read this one, but it’s a real page-turner and I can’t put it down. It’s well researched and informative, just scary enough to grab you, highly recommended no matter where you live, but especially if you live around here and went through that awful night.
During which Mike and I pretty much were glued to the TV watching the non-stop coverage on all channels. Incredible footage and constant tornado warnings, too many for the broadcasters to get to all of them. There were so many tornadoes that night that no one on TV mentioned the pink blob on the radar heading for Little Axe, east of Norman, where we live. We were wondering about it when the thunderstorm crashing over our heads went silent and the power went out. We grabbed the pets and jumped in the closet. It was a tornado, just an F-2, passing by about a mile away, taking the roof of a church with it, leaving us unscathed. When the power came back on I spent the rest of the night asleep in the closet. No sense in messing with the forces of nature.
Afterward I talked to someone whose home in Bridge Creek was lost; he and his wife were about to put a movie in the video player when they decided to check the local news first; they were able to drive away in time. I overheard someone who worked for the railroad who’d just come back from measuring it tell the distance a fully loaded rail car was flung off the track: 800 feet. A friend of mine in Moore told me he looked out his living-room window and saw a black cloud filled with colored flashing lights coming towards his neighborhood: the tornado was exploding transformers as it went.
Spring on the plains is not for the faint-hearted. This time of year, keep an eye on the sky. Stay safe, and best wishes.