Oklahoma City: Amazing Tornado Facts!!

Found this page on Oklahoma City - aka King of Tornadoes, Tornado Mecca - might as well call it 'Tornadoville'.

Oklahoma City has been hit 116 times since 1890!!

Here is a detailed webpage that discusses this fact and other amazing things about this town - such as:
1) 18 times it's been hit by two (or more) tornadoes on the same day
2) hit by 9 F4 & F5's; 5 on a single day
3) Longest period without a tornado 5 years 8 months and then struck by 11 torns in the next 11 months.
4) Since 1950 - only 4 periods of greater than 2 years without a tornado
and More....

Check it out:
http://www.srh.noaa.gov/oun/tornadodata/ok...okc_tornado.php
 
Bill, that's simply incredible..I really didn't imagine that so many tornado did hit Ok city; ok, I knew that was a city with an high number of strong tornadoes in the story but not in this way!
 
That reminds me...the other day I was heading to the Student Union, and I overheard this girl b****ing about how cold she was, and with no trace of irony in her voice, she said "They have normal weather in Oklahoma".
 
Hey guys, this might be a dumb question but after looking at the map on the link it looks to be a pretty populated area in and around OKC-I've never been there. Is it good chase territory in OKC and the surrounding area? I've heard west of I-35 has better road network.
 
Originally posted by Chris Lott
Hey guys, this might be a dumb question but after looking at the map on the link it looks to be a pretty populated area in and around OKC-I've never been there. Is it good chase territory in OKC and the surrounding area? I've heard west of I-35 has better road network.

The road network west of I-35 is usually pretty good with roads every mile (section lines). Eastern OK is a totally different world though.
As far as chasing in or around OKC, OK try to avoid it because it can be a nightmare unless you know the surface streets and county roads :wink:
Every yahoo and their uncle gets out with their disposable 35mm camera and become "chasers"! (June 13th 1998, May 3rd 1999, May 8th & 9th 2003 are prime examples)
 
I think the main reason why the OKC area has been hit by so many tornadoes is simply because of its size. The greater OKC metro is (if memory serves me correctly) one of the largest geographical areas in the U.S. for the population it contains. Simply, OKC is spread out more than comparable cities, so the number of tornados attributed to the city is higher than you might see in, for example, Amarillo. I seem to remember reading somewhere about how the size of OKC relates to its tornado count, but I can't for the life of me remember where. Of course, the fact that Oklahoma City is in an area of high tornado frequency helps. :)

And yes, I found it very frustrating to try to chase anywhere in the OKC area. It's like a circus. I remember driving down I-44 the night of May 9th, 2003 and a cop was driving about thirty down the interstate in the middle of the two lanes. There were a bunch of people trying to pass him, but he would swerve and cut them off when they tried. Looking back now it was quite comical, but at the time it was VERY frustrating. I'd followed the power flashes all the way from the west side of Yukon (actually followed the storm in from Union City) and he kept me from staying with the storm (or maybe I should blame myself for getting on the interstate . . .).

EDIT: I just read the article, and I see that they also mentioned how large the OKC metro area is. They included many of the surrounding cities like Moore, Midwest City, and Choctow which makes the area of discussion quite large.
 
Some stats on the land area in square miles.

Oklahoma City is very large city with 607 square miles in land area.

Land area: 5.2 square miles: Bethany
Land area: 27.1 square miles: Choctaw
Land area: 7.5 square miles: Del City
Land area: 2.1 square miles: Forest Park
Land area: 13.7 square miles Jones
Land area: 24.6 square miles: Midwest City
Land area: 21.7 square miles: Moore
Land area: 12.0 square miles: Mustang
Land area: 2.0 square miles: Nichols Park
Land area: 3.3 square miles: Nicoma Park
Land area: 607.0 square miles: Oklahoma City
Land area: 5.3 square miles: Spencer
Land area: 2.5 square miles: The Village
Land area: 0.3 square miles: Valley Brook
Land area: 2.8 square miles: Warr Acres
Land area: 25.8 square miles: Yukon

Crutcher and Witcher could not find land area.

Source: City Data

Map of central Oklahoma showing immediate Oklahoma City, Oklahoma area.
bran1f1.gif

Source: NWS Norman

Mike
There are very few jobs in meteorology.
 
OKC is fairly large, but I think a lot of cities are larger. Ft Worth / Dallas is much larger. There aren't that many large cities in the southern plains really. Tulsa, Wichita, Kansas City to name most.

Regardless of it's size I think OKC primarily gets hit because it is the climatological bullseye of tornadic activity historically.
 
OKC is huge for its population (3rd largest in the country in geographical area); and the distinction needs to be clear whether it is city limits or metropolitan area under consideration. Only if the area within the city limits of Dallas and Ft. Worth are combined is there a larger city in areal coverage. Also, much of the area within the OKC city limits is not yet built, the urbanized area is 244 mi². Here is a sampling of areas of several cities:

Dallas: 385.0 mi² + Ft. Worth: 298.9 mi² = Total: 683.9 mi²
Oklahoma City: 621.2 mi²
Kansas City MO: 318.0 mi² + Kansas City KS: 127.8 mi² = Total: 445.8 mi²
Nashville: 526.1 mi²
Indianapolis: 368.1 mi²
Chicago: 234.0 mi²
Tulsa: 186.8 mi²
Birmingham: 151.9 mi²
Omaha: 118.9 mi²
Little Rock: 116.8 mi²
Lubbock: 114.9 mi²
Amarillo: 90.3 mi²
Des Moines: 77.2 mi²
Louisville: 66.6 mi²
St. Louis: 66.2 mi²
Topeka: 57.0 mi²
Wichita: 53.6 mi²
Ft. Smith: 52.9 mi²

OKC's downtown CBD has not yet been hit, however, several other city cores have been hit, some more than once. Among these are Ft. Worth, St. Louis, Nashville, Omaha, Lubbock, Waco, Indianapolis, and Louisville. The City of St. Louis in fact has been hit 9x, including the two most damaging tornadoes (by far) in history and the third deadliest in U.S. history. Other major tornado events have struck cities away from downtown or in the metro area including Kansas City, Chicago, Worcester, Birmingham, Dallas, Wichita Falls, and St. Louis.

It's well known that tornado reports increase markedly in populated areas which biases the database. Here is some more interesting city tornado information:

Downtown Tornadoes (Edwards, Schaefer)
Time Series of Annual Cycle of Tornado Days at Selected Sites (Brooks)
Normalized Damage from Major Tornadoes in the United States: 1890-1999 (Brooks & Doswell) {more or less cities}

Various world capitals have been hit, including Washington DC (1814 and 1888), London (1091), Vienna (1873), Paris (1669), Moscow (1904), Panama City (1992), and Singapore (1950). Tornadoes have also struck Calcutta (1838), Tokyo (1964 et al), and other metro areas of national capitals and "global cities". The tornado that hit DC in 1814 killed British soldiers during the occupation and burning of the city during the War of 1812.
 
If I had to pick a US city to sit and wait in for a tornado, I'd pick Oklahoma City.
 
No doubt the size has everything to do with it. As a crow flies... it is almost 45 statute miles from the northwest corner to the southeast corner of the city. There are likely many 45 mile wide locations in "tornado alley" (if there is an "alley") that have had 116 tornadoes in the past 116 years. Who knows? It may be more impressive that an area that big has only been hit an average of one time a year.
 
Other major tornado events have struck cities away from downtown or in the metro area including Kansas City, Chicago, Worcester, Birmingham, Dallas, Wichita Falls, and St. Louis.

Well, you can add Flint michigan 1953, Metro Detroit 1956,1964,and 1976, Kalamazoo Michigan 1980, Grand Rapids 1956 and 1965 to the list of major tornado events to hit large cities or metro areas.

I think just about any large metro area has been hit by a tornado from the rockies east to about a Mobile AL. to Erie PA line.
 
OKC is huge for its population (3rd largest in the country in geographical area); and the distinction needs to be clear whether it is city limits or metropolitan area under consideration. Only if the area within the city limits of Dallas and Ft. Worth are combined is there a larger city in areal coverage. Also, much of the area within the OKC city limits is not yet built, the urbanized area is 244 mi². Here is a sampling of areas of several cities:

Dallas: 385.0 mi² + Ft. Worth: 298.9 mi² = Total: 683.9 mi²
Oklahoma City: 621.2 mi²

Wow! I didn't know it was so big. I just don't see how. I drive through it all the time and it doesn't seem that large or take near as long to drive though as I recall as DFW area. Maybe most of it is not populated as someone else mentioned. I usually just come up through I35 from Norman and head off often to the ne on (what is it?) I40. Just doesn't seem to take that long.

Also consider the study ranking OKC so high doesn't even include the area from Norman.

I'll have to take a look at what areas the study does include. Regardless I still don't think 'size matters' :lol: in this case. Sure it has something to do with it, but seems that still isn't a huge amount of area. It just wouldn't have anywhere near that many tornadoes strikes if it wasn't also a hotbed or bullseye for tornadic activity. This can even be seen by looking at climatological maps historically greatest tornado activity.

Here's one from 1921 to 1995 showing F2's or greater. I couldn't find one for all tornadoes during this range of time. Note the large bullseye of the OKC area - nothing to do with land mass.

http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/hazard/tanim8094/...gtanim2195.html

One thing that is really interesting is that the bullseye for the signifcant torns peaks toward the end of April - say beginning April 26 and then begins going away after May 6th. So seems that is the best time to find a significant tornado, or in other words if you have a severe outbreak around the OKC area during this period of time I would think that might indicate increased probability of F2 and greater torns. Also consider the May 3rd '99 outbreak fits the climatology of this violent peak.

Another note: I see on the F4 and greater loop that AL has a secondary bullseye for torns during March.
 
With all these stats on OKC tornadoes it makes me wonder what pattern was in place during the peaks and droughts for tornadoes. It would be interesting for instance to compare this to La Nina and El Nino events, or any other features that would work to compare.

I realize that would probably only include the latter years of tornadoes, but maybe the last 30 or 5 years could be studied.

Another thought...is there a pattern similar to this year and how does that bode for OKC?
 
Bill, this is complete and utter speculation on my part, but is it possible that increased spotter activity (in the early years of spotting) around the Norman area led to an increase in tornado reports in the early years? This is more of a question(that btw I have been wondering about for quite some time) than a statement, so could someone please tell if this Idea is completely BOGUS! or am I possibly on to somthing?
 
Hi,

I was reading this thread the other day, and decided to check up on how big the Greater London (UK) area is, compared with OKC, in an attempt to compare tornado stats, etc (just for interest!).

Greater London occupies approx 605 sq miles, and so I made the assumption, for ease of calculation, that both cities were 605 sq. miles.

Now, OKC has had 116 tornadoes since 1890, and Greater London has had about 40 tornadoes (although this is not an exact figure!).

Thus, OKC has had 0.19 tornadoes/sq. mile, and London, 0.06 tornadoes/sq. mile.

As far as a threat to people goes:

OKC's population is (2000 census) 506132, or 836.5 people/sq. mile.

Greater London's population is about 7,172,036, or 11,854.6 people/sq. mile (!).

Thus, OKC has 0.0002 tornadoes/person, and Gtr London 0.000005 tornadoes/person.

Thus, it's pretty obvious (and of course I knew this from the start) that OKC is much more dangerous a place to be for tornadoes than London, at least as far as probabilities are concerned...OKC is also much more likely to see a strong-violent class tornado than London.

However, OKC is also a well warned, fairly well prepared city for tornadoes, and London is not. This means that if London gets hit by a strong-violent class tornado in the future (and I'm sure it will at some point - a T7 tornado affected west London in 1954), the human impact could be very high.


Anyway - thought this may interest a few people!

cheers,

Paul.
 
Originally posted by Bill Tabor


Also consider the study ranking OKC so high doesn't even include the area from Norman.


But since Norman never gets hit by tornadoes, there is no reason to count it. :lol:

Wasn't September 5th, 1992 the last tornado actually to hit Norman?
 
Originally posted by Chris Sokol


Wasn't September 5th, 1992 the last tornado actually to hit Norman?

I think that was actually a downburst/wind event....near 100mph winds measured at the NWS late on the 5th/early am 6th. A couple of days earlier, on the 2nd, an F2 tornado hit very close to Purcell, south of Norman. On March 13, 1990 a tornado hit Noble, just south of Norman and eventually crossed Hwy 9...not sure if that was within Norman city limits though. If so, it was a rural area at the time (still pretty much is). Beyond that, I think in the early 80's there was an F0 reported in the city of Norman, but I don't remember the exact date or location.

Rob
 
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