This has been an odd couple of weeks here in Oklahoma. May 19: tornados strike the Oklahoma City Suburbs to the east. May 20: A tornado wipes Moore, Oklahoma off the map. Again. May 31: A tornado hits REALLY close to home.
I’m usually the guy that complains about weather interrupting my evening television viewing. What I found interesting was that the weather interruptions didn’t start at the outbreak of the storms. No, it started hours before. This led me to make fun of the weather guys. Funny thing about that karma chick…
I like to have a good time at the expense of others
sometimes a lot. Now, the video above was not one of those times. That was tragic and it was obvious that it would be tragic from the beginning of the coverage.
No, my fun began on May 31. Coverage began about 2 hours before the storms fired up. Ah, how foolish I was.
My oldest son and I have a part-time job delivering pizzas. It’s the greatest evening job. Drive around, listen to some jams and get paid. What’s not to like? Well, that fateful Friday evening, I began my shift at 6:00. As I was leaving the house, which is in between Yukon and El Reno, my wife decided she would go across the street to her grandparents in case the storms came close. They did.
As I pulled up to the store, Brandon parks next to me and asks if he should be taking his delivery. At this point a tornado had fired up in El Reno which is about 15 miles to our west. This particular storm was on the west side of El Reno. Brandon had to take his pizza to the west side of Yukon. “Yeah, go ahead and take it. The storm is way far away, you shouldn’t have any problems.”
So Brandon takes his pizzas. As he is gone, the tornado sirens began to blare all across town. I started listening to the radio. At this time, Brandon calls and tells me he’s going to a friend’s house because they have a shelter. As soon as I get off the phone, I hear that the tornado is now between Yukon and El Reno. Specifically 2 miles from my home and headed straight for it.
I knew that my wife and middle son, Ryan, were underground. I had a very high concern for them, but they had taken every precaution possible. My youngest son, Dillon, was over at a friend’s house. I wasn’t sure what precautions he was taking. I tried to call.
I called again.
Ah crap! my little guy is out there and I don’t know if he’s ok or not.
Stress level just jumped up a few notches.
As all of this was going on, I was looking for a place to hide. You see, I had been out on a delivery and while I was gone, the store had closed. Nobody was there.
I was stranded with a tornado bearing down on the town.
I drove to the house where Brandon was holed up at. I called.
I went to the front door and started banging on the door.
Holy crap! I was stranded.
I get back in my car and hear that the storm, which had churned its way toward my home, had taken a turn to the south-east.
I called my dad.
“Dad! I’m out in this! Where do I go?”
So I drive to Mustang which is about 5 miles due south of my location.
Not 10 seconds after I arrive at the town’s main street, I get a call from my mother.
“There’s a tornado in Mustang!”
“Put dad on the line!” “Dad, where do I go?”
“Head for Union City”
So I point my car toward Union City.
“Oh, he must be chasing another tornado.”
Wrong. He was fleeing the tornado in Union City that I was unaware of.
I get about a mile further down the road when I see clouds swirling in a way I have never before witnessed.
Time to go
I performed a turn around of epic proportions, in the middle of state highway 92, with traffic behind me, and commence to hauling ass as fast as my car will take me in the opposite direction.
It’s difficult staying on the road when the wind is blowing south for one moment and the north the next and then all directions at what seems like the same time.
I finally get back to Yukon when the danger had passed. It was a ghost town. The rain was pounding and there was debris all over the place. In this case, however, the debris was just tree branches.
I was able to make contact with the family and returned to sanity.
It had been a high stress evening and I was glad that it was over….Except I went back to work and mad a few extra bucks.
What I thought was a joke ended up being the widest tornado ever recorded and it was a F5 to boot.
The moral of the story: The weather guys suck in the winter, but during tornado season, they know their stuff. Pay attention.
- UPDATE: El Reno, Union City tornado widest tornado on record (kfor.com)
- Oklahoma Tornado Widest Ever Recorded On Earth (fox2now.com)
- May 31 tornado makes history, largest EF-5 on record (kfor.com)
- El Reno, Union City tornado in Oklahoma widest on record (fox6now.com)
- WATCH: Large, violent tornado on the ground southwest of Oklahoma City (live feed) (al.com)
- Recent Oklahoma Tornadoes Upgraded to EF-5 (5newsonline.com)
- Deadly Okla. Tornado Widest on Record, Rare EF5 – ABC News (abcnews.go.com)