RAMMB Satellite Case Studies

The Kansas-Oklahoma Killer Tornado Outbreak of May 3, 1999

On 3 May 1999, multiple supercell thunderstorms produced many large and damaging tornadoes in central Oklahoma during the late afternoon and evening hours. Some of these storms were killers, including the twisters which moved through and/or near Dover, Shawnee, Perry and Bridge Creek, and the Moore and southern Oklahoma City metropolitan areas. Additional tornadoes also hit areas in south-central Kansas, eastern Oklahoma and northern Texas, with over 50 being observed across the region. The tornado count for this outbreak makes it the largest ever recorded in the state of Oklahoma. The most recent statistics show that 42 people have died as the result of the outbreak and 795 were injured. Many homes and businesses have been destroyed or damaged throughout the affected areas, with a total damage estimate of about $750 million. Five deaths, 100 injuries and heavy property damage were also incurred in the Wichita, Kansas metro area.

The map, courtesy of the NWS-NSSL, shows the approximate location and paths of the most damaging tornadoes. NOTE: This map is based upon a preliminary assessment of the outbreak and it does not include all of the tornadoes known to have occurred within OK. The NWS' Norman, OK staff is currently in the process of assessing damage and Fujita Scale ratings for the storms.

Click for enlargement.

The available satellite imagery covering this outbreak includes those derived from both GOES-8 and GOES-10, and they span the period from 00 UTC on 3 May to 07 UTC on the 4th. The images are all at the routine operational scan-rate of 15 minutes apart. These digital, McIDAS format data files are available by anonymous FTP to: "canopus.cira.colostate.edu". They are in directories 99123_OK_tor/Goes_8 and 99123_OK_tor/Goes_10. As in other cases available in the CIRA-RAMM Team Virtual Lab, the imagery is contained in McIDAS area-file format, with AREA1*** containing channel 1 (VIS) images; AREA2***, channel 2; AREA3***, channel 3; AREA4***, channel 4; and AREA5***, channel 5.

For access to severe weather reports, Doppler radar imagery, photographs and other documentation about this storm, visit the Central Atlantic Storm Investigators' website.