Skiatook Tornado Anniversary - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

Skiatook Tornado Anniversary

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15 years ago Wednesday, a powerful tornado destroyed a neighborhood in Skiatook. Other towns also had heavy damage, but all of them had the best warning available at the time.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says the Skiatook tornado changed Larry Harper's life. It demolished his house, injured his neighbor, and left his neighborhood in ruins. "The one next door to me was gone, nothing left but the slab."

Today he's a Red Cross volunteer, helping others because of the help he got after the storm. And he can't forget something else about the tornado - the precise warning of its arrival. "And it came real close to coming when they said it would, it was real close."

The revolution that gave the warning was Doppler 6 Pathfinder - at that time a new invention. News on 6 Meteorologist Jim Giles: “Skiatook you're in the path at 9:06, Vera, 9:08.”

At the time, viewers were astonished at its accuracy. "Instead of just the red, green and yellow on the screen, you can see when the tornado will actually get there."

The neighborhood demolished by the 1991 tornado has been largely rebuilt. Nowadays, more people are protecting themselves with underground shelters and they're expecting even earlier warnings and more precision in tornado forecasting.

Jim Giles: "Before that we had, broad brush, but we had never been able to predict the path of a tornado 30-40 minutes down the road."

Phillip Pedigo was one of the people who remembers the warning. He lost his home but not his life. "The news done real good, they told us when it would be here and it was."

Pedigo had forgotten the anniversary, even though he spent the day installing a new set of storm sirens, so the town of Sperry might have better warning.

He knows the value of it as much as anybody.
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