May 3, 1999 is a day I will never forget. I was 15 years old at the time and was listening to all the coverage of the monster tornado that had gone through the Moore and Oklahoma City metro area that afternoon over a newer-ish invention called Real Player, which streamed audio choppily over my dialup connection at the time.
Ever since that day, I have been fascinated with that severe event. I have watched documentaries, tv specials, and youtube videos from the day. I always wished I could have witnessed that event.
Fast forward to May 24, 2011. At the time, that was the biggest tornado event I had chased. I witnessed a huge tornado rip through mostly rural Grady County Oklahoma, dissipating when it made it up to the Moore/Oklahoma City metro area. While the event was big, the destruction was mostly kept to rural homes.
2 years later, May 3, 1999 repeated itself. A large, deadly and destruction EF-5 tornado ripping through the City of Moore, Oklahoma. I was there to witness it this time. It was nothing like I could have ever prepared myself for.
It was by far the worst tornado I’ve ever intercepted in my 6 years of chasing.
The amount of debris in the air was incomprehensible. The roar of the tornado was nothing I ever heard before. The tornado sirens. The emergency vehicle sirens later on. The scene was surreal. I couldn’t believe it happened again. I couldn’t believe what I had witnessed. I couldn’t believe businesses I frequent, the roads I travel frequently were destroyed. Peoples lives completely changed forever.
And yet, while this was going on, there was the sinking feeling inside of me that people would die from this tornado and there was nothing I could do to help it or stop it. Some people even took shelter like they were supposed to, and didn’t make it. The tornado threat here in Central Oklahoma is very real. It could happen here in Norman just as easily.
I may have been obsessed with May 3, 1999 for years, but that has come to an end. I never want to witness something so horrific ever again. I never want an event like this to happen again.