Tuesday marks the first anniversary of the May 20, 2013 tornado that killed 24 residents in Moore, injured hundreds, and caused an estimated $2 billion in damage.
To mark the occasion, the Norman Forecast Office of the National Weather Service put together a presentation highlighting a dozen observations from the 2013 storms in the community also hard-hit by strong, violent tornadoes in May 1999 and May 2013.
1. A graphic prepared for the 10 a.m. severe weather briefing highlighted the area – part of 10 counties – where tornadic storms would develop three to four hours later.
2. Beginning at 1:10 p.m. on May 20, there was a watch or warning of some type in effect somewhere in the NWS Norman county warning area for nearly 30 hours straight.
3. In the two hours leading up to the tornado, NWS Norman was tweeting at the rate of one tweet every three to four minutes. All social media posts were manually written – no bots!
4. Before and during the tornado, NWS Norman had three meteorologists issuing warnings for storms across our area. One forecaster had the sole responsibility of handling the OKC area supercell.
5. In addition to the EF5 tornado, there were 14 other tornadoes in Oklahoma on May 20.
6. The tornado emergency issued at 301 p.m. was the first one issued by NWS Norman since May 9, 2003.
7. 97 percent of the population within the tornado damage track got more than 31 minutes lead time with the 2:40 p.m. tornado warning.
8. Before the tornado entered the city of Moore, NWS Norman sent a preliminary damage track map to emergency management and public safety officials along the first part of the track. Within minutes after the tornado ended, a complete track map was sent.
9. Damage survey teams looked at 4222 individual structures, one of the most detailed damage surveys on record.
10. Contrary to popular belief, the tornado just grazed the Warren Theater – it did not take a direct hit.
11. Radar data indicates that the tornado got smaller and did a complete loop near the intersection of SW 4th Street and Telephone Road, basically right over the 7/11 store.
12. When President Obama came to the area on May 26th, he requested to meet with forecasters from the NWS Norman Forecast Office and the Storm Prediction Center. Ten staff members shook hands with the President and posed for an impromptu picture beside Air Force One just before he left Tinker Air Force Base.
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