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Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Floods and more…

This is the view from my old house the day after the tornado. Fortunately, all of my old neighbors were safe and the neighborhood is being rebuilt.

Here is my account of the storm.

This was the first chase that I have done in years. This was a chase due to necessity rather than curiosity. This was a chase that I never want to do again.

I have been without power, internet, and phone until now. I have only see a few pictures from the internet and first hand experience of what happened. With that said, here is my account of the day before I spend hours catching up.

I started the day off in the office in Norman. I called daycare (between 4th and 19th St in Moore) around noon to let them know I would be picking up my daughter at 230 because of the possible storms. I let them know that they should keep an eye on the weather later in the day. I checked out the HRRR and the 4km SPC WRF and noticed they they were popping cells over the metro from 2-4pm. While I kept an eye on the 1km vis sat loop from Dupage, I saw that OUN had launched a 17z sounding (notified via twitter). While the instability was extreme, I was not too convinced with the low level shear. However, as I learned from a data set Dr. Richman gave me in Metr. Statistics, extreme instability can compensate for moderate shear (especially in the southern plains). This happened with the 5/12/2004 tornadoes near Attica, KS.

So, I was now confident the atmosphere was primed. Once I saw the towers go up near Lawton and the one near KCHK, I decided to head to day care. While driving north on I-35 toward Moore from Norman, I noticed that the storm quickly had an anvil that was shearing in all directions. At this time, I called the daycare and coworkers to let them know the storm was coming. Quickly I contacted a fellow met and asked him what it looked like on radar. He said that it absolutely exploded with the latest scan. At this point I am sitting in front of the daycare watching the clouds in the anvil come flying across in a wave like fashion toward the east. I saw the back of the updraft and the noticeable horizontal rotation as the clouds were rapidly rising. I quickly went into daycare and let them know to get ready to take shelter (nap time had just ended). The storm had just become severe warned.

As I drove down Eastern toward Indian Hills, I called my wife to get her aware of the situation. Mike Morgan was already going wall to wall on KTOK 1000. My daughter and I sat at the corner of Indian Hills and Telephone/36th and watched the base (not necessarily rain free). Within minutes I made the decision to go get her and the pups from the house because this beast looked like it might head in our direction and our storm shelter won’t be installed until the end of May. As I pulled up to the house the cell went Tornado warned. We went back to our perch at Indian Hills and Telephone and watched. Our house is just south of SW 34th on Telephone (1.5 mi south of Warren Theater). I just moved from SW OKC to Moore in March. In reality, the move was only a couple of miles. But, it is a couple of miles that saved us from losing everything. Our old house was on 149th Pl across the street of Orr Family Farms and Briarwood Elementary.

As we watched the storm we noticed rapidly rotating rain curtains. It was hard to see what was in there. I couldn’t tell if there was a tornado on the ground or not. But, then it dropped that elephant trunk and there was no mistaking it. I called family to let them know we were out of harms way. I then called daycare to let them know there was a tornado on the ground. Withing minutes the elephant truck transformed into a wedge. When the tornado stopped its northeasterly motion, we repositioned 1 mile further south and west at Franklin and Santa Fe/48th. This is just next to the south doppler radar.

I only took 1 picture of the tornado. I was just too dumbfounded watching this thing roll through my old neighborhood. When the tornado got closer and remained a large and growing wedge, I called daycare one last time to let them know that this was a very serious tornado. The tornado was visible from our location until it got to about 149th and Western. At that point it became impossible for me to actually see the tornado. There was dirt and debris circulating around it for more than a full 1 mile section. It was due north of my location at this point. I can remember the fear and knots in my stomach as I watched. I was confident that it didn’t hit our new house because I could still see the large flag at the Harvest Church in Norman. But, I was certain that it went right through the old neighborhood. I could see power flashes when the tornado became obscured. By the time it got to I-35, I was too far on the SW side to see anything. We waited a little longer and then went to make sure our house was there. It took 30 minutes to go 0.75 miles on telephone Rd to get home. Luckily we were about 1.5 miles away from the tornado path. There was debris littered throughout our yard. We were without power, cell reception, tv and internet. But we were safe.

I was able to fire up my radio to listen to the aftermath that night. It sounded catastrophic. All night long we could hear the ambulances going up and down telephone road. Still today, 2 days later, there is the constant noise overhead of helicopters flying non-stop. Slowly I was able to get messages from some of my old neighbors. They said half the homes on my old street were gone or severely damaged. Our old house sustained probably EF-1 damage from my best guess. My neighbor directly across the street to the north had EF-3. I learned today that NWS found EF-5 at Briarwood Elementary. The school is only 250 yards away from the old house. Luckily the tornado narrowed after crossing I-35 and spare our daycare. It received EF-0 damage. Not more than 200 yards north it goes to EF-3 and EF-4 (300yds). I am thankful that everyone on my old block is alive and safe.

My prayers go out to all in Moore.

Below are the pictures that I have. I took them with my cell phone and didn’t stop to get out, so they are not the best.,

Photo 1: Tornado looking toward I-44 and SW 149th St.

Photo 2: Here is what my old neighbor’s house looked like before and after, literally right across the street from my old house.,+Oklahoma+City,+OK&hl=en & ll=35.319231,-97.522974&spn=0.006872,0.016512&sll=35.319051,-97.523075&l ayer=c&cbp=13,321.32,,0,4.09&cbll=35.319229,-97.522863&hnear=524+SW+149t h+Pl,+Oklahoma+City,+Cleveland,+Oklahoma+73170&t=h&z=17&panoid=fYeNkmDok lTYAPTbakIO4A

Photo 3: Here is what Briarwood Elementary looked like before and after. Literally 300 yds from old house.,+Oklahoma+City,+OK&hl=en & ll=35.319765,-97.52174&spn=0.006907,0.016512&sll=35.319051,-97.523075&la yer=c&cbp=13,34.41,,0,2.4&cbll=35.319764,-97.5216&hnear=524+SW+149th+Pl, +Oklahoma+City,+Cleveland,+Oklahoma+73170&t=h&panoid=zYwzU327W2gouvaWcVh wHg&z=17

Photo 4: And this is the old neighborhood just east of Briarwood. Very sad.,+Oklahoma+City,+OK&hl=en & ll=35.319765,-97.520378&spn=0.006907,0.016512&sll=35.319051,-97.523075&l ayer=c&cbp=13,42.69,,0,8.83&cbll=35.319768,-97.520503&hnear=524+SW+149th +Pl,+Oklahoma+City,+Cleveland,+Oklahoma+73170&t=h&panoid=iFaOp5M0C9n6t0S bS4ESHA&z=17 [image: Brian McKibben's photo.] [image: Brian McKibben's photo.] [image: Brian McKibben's photo.] [image: Brian McKibben's photo.]

The Tornado Outbreak of May 20, 2013

A tornado outbreak occurred during the afternoon and evening hours of the May 20, 2013, and was the last day of a three-day stretch of significant severe weather. This event also produced the most deadly and devastating tornado of the year for Oklahoma and the the United States.

Several supercell thunderstorms developed during early afternoon of May 20th along a dryline in central Oklahoma. One of these storms developed near Chickasha and rapidly intensified, producing a tornado which touched down at 2:56 PM CDT on the west side of Newcastle. The tornado became violent within minutes, then tracked east-northeastward across the city of Moore and parts of south Oklahoma City for about 40 minutes before finally dissipating near Lake Stanley Draper. The tornado caused catastrophic damage in these areas, and was given a maximum rating of EF-5. The tornado claimed 23 lives, injured scores of people, and caused billions of dollars in damage.

Several other tornadoes also occurred in Stephens and Lincoln Counties during the afternoon of May 20. In addition to the tornadoes, large hail and damaging winds caused damage in many areas.

Below is a map with the preliminary damage path of the Newcastle-Moore-South OKC tornado. Contours delineate the extent of EF-0 (light blue), EF-1 (green), EF-2 (yellow), EF-3 (orange), EF-4 (red), and EF-5 (purple) damage from the survey.

This video is from the EF4 tornado that went through Tuscaloosa, AL on 4/27/11. It was taken from the University Mall parking lot. Probably the closest video to the storm your going to see.

Video of four violent wedge tornadoes from different supercells in eastern Mississippi into Alabama, including the EF-5 that occurred near Philadelphia, Mississippi, as well as the birth of the Tuscaloosa tornado. Sadly, this tornado outbreak over “Dixie Alley” was responsible for substantial loss of life and property across MS, AL, GA, as violent tornadoes struck Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, and other populated areas. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this tragedy.

On May 22, 2011 a highly destructive and deadly tornado tore through the city of Joplin, Missouri. Here is video of the tornado entering the southwest side of town, filmed by Basehunters team Colt Forney, Isaac Pato, Kevin Rolfs, and Scott Peake. The team spent hours assisting with search and rescue and transporting victims to local hospitals in personal vehicles.

NOAA announces two additional severe weather events reached $1 billion damage threshold, raising 2011’s billion-dollar disaster count from 12 to 14 events

January 19, 2012

Selected Annual Records

Selected Annual Climate Records for 2011 – Green dots show the wettest, yellow dots the driest, red dots the warmest and blue dots the coolest records.

High Resolution (Credit: NOAA)

According to NOAA scientists, 2011 was a record-breaking year for climate extremes, as much of the United States faced historic levels of heat, precipitation, flooding and severe weather, while La Niña events at both ends of the year impacted weather patterns at home and around the world.

NOAA’s annual analysis of U.S. and global conditions, conducted by scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, reports that the average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 53.8 degrees F, 1.0 degree F above the 20th century average, making it the 23rd warmest year on record. Precipitation across the nation averaged near normal, masking record-breaking extremes in both drought and precipitation.

On a global scale, La Niña events helped keep the average global temperature below recent trends. As a result, 2011 tied with 1997 for the 11th warmest year on record. It was the second coolest year of the 21st century to date, and tied with the second warmest year of the 20th century.

Key highlights of the report include:

U.S. weather and climate disasters

  • NOAA has identified two additional events in 2011 that caused an economic impact of $1 billion or greater, bringing the total number of major billion-dollar weather and climate disasters to 14 (not including the pre-Halloween snowstorm in the Northeast, which is still being analyzed).
  • Extreme Weather Events in 2011

    From extreme drought, heat waves and floods to unprecedented tornado outbreaks, hurricanes, wildfires and winter storms, a record 14 weather and climate disasters in 2011 each caused $1 billion or more in damages — and most regrettably, loss of human lives and property.

    High Resolution (Credit: NOAA)

    • Tropical Storm Lee, which made landfall on the Gulf Coast on September 2, caused wind and flood damage across the Southeast, but considerably more damage to housing, business and infrastructure from record flooding across the Northeast states, especially Pennsylvania and New York. The storm occurred in an area that had experienced high rainfall from Hurricane Irene barely a week earlier.
    • A Rockies and Midwest severe weather outbreak, which occurred July 10-14, included tornadoes, hail and high winds. Much of the damage was from wind, hail, and flooding impacts to homes, business, and agriculture.
  • Together, these two events resulted in the loss of 23 lives (21 from Tropical Storm Lee, 2 from the Rockies/Midwest outbreak).


  • Warmer-than-normal temperatures were anchored across the South, Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast. Delaware had its warmest year on record, while Texas had its second warmest year on record. The U.S. has observed a long-term temperature increase of about 0.12 degrees F per decade since 1895.
  • Summer (June-August) 2011 was the second warmest on record for the Lower 48, with an average temperature of 74.5 degrees F, just 0.1 degree F below the record-warm summer of 1936. The epicenter of the heat was the Southern Plains, where Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas all had their warmest summer on record. The 3-month average temperatures for both Oklahoma (86.9 degrees F) and Texas (86.7 degrees F) surpassed the previous record for warmest summer in any state.
  • With the exception of Vermont, each state in the contiguous U.S. had at least one location that exceeded 100 degrees F. Summertime temperatures have increased across the U.S. at an average rate of 0.11 degrees F per decade. Much of this trend is due to increases in minimum temperatures (“overnight lows”), with minimum temperature extremes becoming increasingly commonplace in recent decades.
  • Despite a “near normal” national precipitation average, regional precipitation outcomes varied wildly. Texas, ravaged by exceptional drought for most of 2011, had its driest year on record. In contrast, seven states in the Ohio Valley and Northeast — Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania — had their wettest year on record.
  • The past nine years have been particularly wet across the Northeast region – since 2003, the annual precipitation for the region is 48.96 inches, 7.88 inches above the 20th century average. Precipitation averaged across the U.S. is increasing at a rate of about 0.18 inches per decade.
  • Precipitation extremes and impacts were most prevalent during spring (March – May) 2011. Across the northern U.S., ten states were record wet, and an additional 11 states had spring precipitation totals ranking among their top ten wettest. These precipitation extremes, combined with meltwater from a near-record snow pack, contributed to historic flooding along several major rivers across the central United States.
  • Meanwhile, drought rapidly intensified in the southern Plains, where Texas had only 2.66 inches of precipitation, its driest spring on record. This led to record breaking drought and wildfires, which devastated the southern Plains. Following 2010, during which drought across the country was nearly erased, the 12 percent of the continental U.S. in the most severe category of drought (D4) during July 2011 was the highest in the U.S. Drought Monitor era (1999-2011).
  • The spring brought a record breaking tornado season to the United States. Over 1,150 tornadoes were confirmed during the March-May period. The 551 tornado-related fatalities during the year were the most in the 62-year period of record. The deadliest tornado outbreak on record (April 25-28th) and the deadliest single tornado (Joplin, Missouri) contributed to the high fatality count.


  • This year tied 1997 as the 11th warmest year since records began in 1880. The annual global combined land and ocean surface temperature was 0.92 degrees F above the 20th century average of 57.0 degrees F. This marks the 35th consecutive year, since 1976, that the yearly global temperature was above average. The warmest years on record were 2010 and 2005, which were 1.15 degrees F above average.
  • Separately, the 2011 global average land surface temperature was 1.49 degrees F above the 20th century average of 47.3 degrees F and ranked as the eighth warmest on record. The 2011 global average ocean temperature was 0.72 degrees F above the 20th century average of 60.9 degrees F and ranked as the 11th warmest on record.
  • Including 2011, all eleven years of the 21st century so far (2001-2011) rank among the 13 warmest in the 132-year period of record. Only one year during the 20th century, 1998, was warmer than 2011.
  • La Niña, which is defined by cooler-than-normal waters in the eastern and central equatorial Pacific Ocean that affects weather patterns around the globe, was present during much of 2011. A relatively strong phase of La Niña opened the year, dissipated in the spring before re-emerging in October and lasted through the end of the year. When compared to previous La Niña years, the 2011 global surface temperature was the warmest observed.
  • The 2011 globally-averaged precipitation over land was the second wettest year on record, behind 2010. Precipitation varied greatly across the globe. La Niña contributed to severe drought in the Horn of Africa and to Australia’s third wettest year in its 112-year period of record.
  • Arctic sea ice extent was below average for all of 2011, and has been since June 2000, a span of 127 consecutive months. Both the maximum ice extent (5.65 million square miles on March 7th) and the minimum extent (1.67 million square miles on September 9th) were the second smallest of the satellite era.
  • For the second year running, NCDC asked a panel of climate scientists to determine and rank the year’s ten most significant climate events, for both the United States and for the planet, to include record drought in East Africa and record flooding in Thailand and Australia. The results are at

Scientists, researchers and leaders in government and industry use NOAA’s monthly and annual reports to help track trends and other changes in the world’s climate. This climate service has a wide range of practical uses, from helping farmers know what and when to plant, to guiding resource managers’ critical decisions about water, energy and other vital assets.

A powerful Winter storm system currently making its way into the Ozarks and middle-Mississippi Valley region will interact with an unseasonably warm, moist Gulf airmass later this evening, prompting what is likely to be the first large-scale severe weather episode of 2012. *Forecast models *continue to suggest that strong, southerly wind-fields in the lowest levels of the atmosphere will readily transport this uninhibited current of Gulf moisture well into the Mid South and lower Ohio Valley, allowing dewpoints in the mid to upper 60s to migrate potentially as far north as the Missouri bootheel by sunset or just thereafter; this should provide plenty of fuel for thunderstorms that are likely to develop ahead of a cold front that will sweep across Arkansas later this afternoon. Low and mid-level wind shear is very favorable for thunderstorms with sustained rotating updrafts; any storms that are able to develop along and ahead of the front will have the potential for strong, possibly long-lived tornadoes, especially, and unfortunately, after dark, as the low-level wind shear is forecast to intensify in conjunction with the arrival of the most abundant moisture from the Gulf. The possibility of a nighttime tornado event presents an especially dangerous situation for residents of central and Eastern Arkansas, west Tennessee, northern Mississippi. As always, persons in the outlined areas are strongly urged to have their severe weather plans in place, monitor local media and, above all, heed warnings when they are issued–NOAA Weather Radios with fresh batteries are a must for events such as these.

The June 14, 2011 Severe Wind Event in Central Oklahoma

Photo provided courtesy of Justin Linck.

Taken at I-35 and Main St in Norman looking NW.

Radar reflectivity loop of the severe thunderstorm as it it moved through Norman, OK.

To See a Radar Animation, Click the Above Image.


Thunderstorms quickly developed along a slow-moving cold front that was located near I-44 by late afternoon. Several locations reported wind gusts well over 60 mph, with the highest measured gust of 82 mph! Large hail to baseball size was also reported. Many communities reported damage as a result of the high winds, large hail, or a combination of both.


From approximately 7:20 pm to 7:45 pm, a wet downburst affected areas in and around Norman and southeast Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Intense rainfall was accompanied by hail up to golf-ball size and winds that were measured at over 80 mph. Damage was reported over much of the city, with the most intense damage occurring over the northern half of the city. Almost 33,000 residents were without power, some still without power over 24 hours later. This was due to the numerous power poles/lines that were snapped or blown down. In addition to the high wind, hail up to golf ball size fell almost horizontally, damaging siding, shattering store signs, and denting automobiles. The highest measured wind gust occurred near SE 12th and Boyd, where the anemometer recorded 82 mph before it malfunctioned due to the wind blown hail. The Norman mesonet site also measured a gust of 70 mph. A quick inch of rain occurred in about 15 to 20 minutes, which resulted in some minor flash flooding. Here are a few facts about yesterdays severe weather event:

  • The damage that occurred in and around Norman, OK was caused by a downburst, not a tornado. The turbulent cloud motions along the leading edge of the “rain foot” can sometimes give the appearance of a descending funnel. Downburst winds have been known to produce wind speeds in excess of 100 mph.
  • The highest measured wind speed occurred over the northern and central portions of Norman, where an anemometer measured 82 mph.
  • The largest reported hail side was 2.75″ (baseball-size), which fell one mile south of Cushing, Oklahoma. Golfball size hail (1.75″) was also reported in Norman along with the damaging winds.

What Is a Downburst?

Downbursts occur when precipitation in a thunderstorm drags air downward to the ground at high speeds, and it then spreads out along the ground. For more information, see this page from the NWS JetStream Online Weather School.

Schematic of a Microburst from a Severe Thunderstorm

Storm chasing highlights from the historic May 4, 2003 tornado outbreak in Kansas and Missouri. Tornadoes from three different supercells were intecepted, one of which crossed the road less than a 1/4 mile away. This incredible tornado video is complimented with summaries and radar images.