Remembering Moore: 25th Anniversary of F5 Tornado

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4 May 2024 8:00 PM

Above - Moore, Oklahoma tornado damage in May 1999 (Photo: NWS Norman)

May 3rd marks the anniversary of a deadly F5 tornado that struck Bridge Creek, Moore, and Oklahoma City, OK in 1999. This year is the 25th anniversary of the historic storm that was on the ground for 38 miles, carving a path of destruction from Chickasha through the southern suburbs of Oklahoma City. Sadly, this one storm left 46 people dead and 800 injured. Over 8,000 homes were destroyed as a result of the EF-5 tornado. The tornado messaging was a first of its kind too, when NWS Norman issued a "tornado emergency" to grab the Public's attention beyond a typical "tornado warning"

The tornado cut a path through communities 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile wide. It wiped out entire communities in the Oklahoma City metro. Though the Bridge Creek-Moore tornado was the strongest storm as an F5 there were an additional two F4 tornadoes in central Oklahoma. Six more tornadoes were F3! According to the National Weather Service in Norman, OK, "The final total of 72 tornadoes makes May 3-4, 1999 event the largest outbreak of tornadoes for Oklahoma since official records began in 1950."

Above - Moore, Oklahoma tornado damage in May 1999 (Photo: NWS Norman)

This tornado was one of 74 that touched down on May 3, 1999, in Oklahoma and Kansas. Five deaths, 100 injuries and heavy damage were reported from the Wichita, Kansas metro area. For Oklahoma, the majority of deaths from the tornado outbreak occurred as a result of the Bridge-Creek Moore F5, a total of 36 with over 580 injured by the storm.

In modern U.S. history, there have only been 59 F5 or EF5 tornadoes, most recently in Moore, OK in 2013. The Fujita (F) scale transitioned to the "Enhanced Fujita" scale (EF) in 2007. According to the National Weather Service, "The EF Scale takes into account more variables than the original F Scale did when assigning a wind speed rating to a tornado. The EF Scale incorporates 28 damage indicators (DIs) such as building type, structures, and trees." There are 8 degrees of damage for each indicator to help survey crews determine storm extent and strength.

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