I think if you asked any average citizen outside of Oklahoma or the storm chasing community about May 3, 1999, most of them wouldn't have a clue what happened that day.. April 26, 1991 and April 3-4, 1974 would probably be better candidates for "owning a date."
Actually I tend to agree with the "May 3" owning the date thing. It's the only date in history I've ever heard where the year isn't needed to distinguish itself. There has never been an event that could match this one for pure intensity, number of tornadoes, geographical concentration into one area, and of course, newsworthiness and historical value. Plus it happened the bullseye of tornado alley.
I should have made this clear which I didn't make clear before is that when I said 'everyone knows exactly what weather event you're talking about', I was referring exclusively to the weather enthusiast community. Meaning, everyone in 'everyone who follows the weather on a daily basis'
knows what you mean when you say May 3rd. I wasn't really referring to the individual in Vermont, Utah, or anywhere for that matter who couldn't tell you the difference between a Severe T-Storm Watch and a Severe T-Storm Warning. I guess I should have explained this much better initially.
Shane that's the key to my observation and I probably should have explained this in more detail as well - It's the only weather event in history known exclusively by the Month and Day minus
the year. I really thought hard about it and April 26, 1991 does come close except that you have to include 1991. You just can't say April 26th because it doesn't have the same impact. So in essence you're merely referring to the exact date of this event which is slightly different, but I'll admit by not very much. Though notorious and unprecedented in itself, April 3-4 is more known as the 'Super Outbreak'. Plus you have to include 1974 if you reference this event strictly by the date. However, normally you just can't say April 3rd, you have to say The Super Outbreak.
You see Mike, though November 15th and April 8th will have a great deal of meaning for many people in Huntsville and Oak Grove, AL (and surrounding areas) respectively, if you merely state these dates to most weather enthisiasts outside of Alabama, even they will struggle in figuring out exactly what weather event you are referencing. However, you say May 3rd, in all likelihood you will not have this issue at all.
Even the worse natural distaster in US history, Hurricane Katrina, is not known by its own date. Even many weather enthusiasts have to stop and think to remember exactly what day Hurricane Katrina made landfall. Likewise, even most weather enthusiast couldn't tell you what day the 1900 Galveston Hurricane made landfall. 'Storm of the Century', 'The Labor Day Hurricane', 'The Palm Sunday Outbreak', on and so forth. But depsite the magnitude of these 'notorious' weather events, none of them are referenced by merely a 'date' the way May 3rd is referenced.
Let me also make this clear, I'm not ranking May 3rd at the top of some sort of All-Time Weather Event Countdown. I think some people may have the misperception that my post was meant to place May 3rd as some sort of top weather event of all-time. So I hope no one doesn't misconstrue that I was merely making an observation that in the first time in weather history, everyone (as in everyone in the weather community) references a weather event by just the month and the day of the event. Like I said before, it appears that this outbreak now owns this particular day. I wonder if anyone has thought to analyze why this is the case. ( Is it becuase this Oklahoma Outbreak included the first widely televised live F-5 tornado to make a direct strike on a densely populated area?) Usually notorious weather events obtain some sort of legendary historical title. However in this case, the Oklahoma Tornado Outbreak will always be known simply as May 3rd. At least that's how it appears to be at this time, though this may change many years down the road.