Oklahoma City was devastated by a catastrophic F5 tornado on May 3rd, 1999. It was the first F5 tornado to hit a major city directly, causing widespread devastation and loss of life.
In western Oklahoma, a supercell thunderstorm formed a tornado. As it gained strength, it began moving towards the city, leaving residents little time to prepare. There was a 38-mile touchdown path, and the tornado was tracked for nearly an hour.
The storm had a devastating impact. Over 8,000 homes were destroyed, and 12,000 were damaged. Over 50 schools and several hospitals were also damaged or destroyed, leaving many without medical care or education.
The storm's intensity was evident in the damage caused by the storm. Trees were uprooted, cars were thrown hundreds of yards, and entire neighbourhoods were flattened. Even buildings designed to withstand severe weather were damaged by the tornado.
The loss of life was also significant. There were 36 deaths and over 500 injuries. Most of the deaths occurred in Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City that was directly in the storm's path.
The people of Oklahoma City rallied to help those affected by the storm despite the devastation. Thousands of volunteers from around the country and state emergency responders participated in the cleanup.
The tornado changed how cities prepare for severe weather. Oklahoma City has since developed a comprehensive emergency plan since the storm, which includes tornado sirens, emergency communication systems, and safe rooms.