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Remembering 3 May 1999

Remembering 3 May 1999

Posted: 05/03/19

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Storms


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Twenty years ago today (3 May 1999), an outbreak of over 70 tornadoes ravaged central Oklahoma and southern Kansas, killing 40 people and injuring 675 more, despite excellent watches and warnings. Rich Thompson and I headed out to observe the storms after I woke up following a night shift, and after his day shift. We saw 11 tornadoes of all shapes, forms and sizes, day and night, from two supercells, and could have seen more but for some roadblocks. Nancy Mathis interwove our chase story with those of forecasters, survivors and broadcasters in her popular book, Storm Warning: The Story of a Killer Tornado. The day was dark, cloudy and hazy, but a few of the tornadoes were photogenic, including this stout vortex from an enormous supercell reminiscent of the mothership in Independence Day. This still ranks as the most amazing storm intercept experience that I've had.

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