Sunday, May 03, 2009


April, 10, 1979 gives way to May 3, 1999

Ten years ago this morning, the Red River Valley tornado outbreak of April 10-11, 1979, was the defining storm in my life -- because Dr. ER, then 15, was in it, and for me, during 10 years of reporting in Texas it was THE yardstick for measuring storms. Strongest F5 on record.

Ten years ago this evening, even before the extent of the damage was known, the Oklahoma tornado outbreak of May 3-6, 1999, had already eclipsed the 1979 storm. I'd sent reporters and photographers to cover storm damage in southwest Oklahoma around 3 or 4 p.m. -- and they followed the monstrous system all the way to OKC. Bird was with me in Wichita Falls; Dr. ER was in her hotel in Oklahoma City. One hell of a night, including a new strongest-ever F5.

Knowing I was out of its path, I walked out on my porch and listened to it eat its way through South OKC.
I was in Oregon at the time of the '99 storms and was frantic to find out where, exactly, they'd all hit. The tv news stations out there were only saying things like "Oklahoma City vicinity". It took over a week before I was able to get in touch with all my friends back here. Not fun.
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