Remember May 3rd & Welcoming June-Like Heat
For long-term residents of Oklahoma, "May 3rd" is all anyone has to say to evoke the sense of dread when it comes to tornadoes. It was a day in which several violent, (F4 and F5) tornadoes ripped through the state, killing dozens. The attached map shows the tornado paths and strengths from that infamous day. The Moore tornado was particularly devastating with wind speeds estimated at over 300 mph. It definitely goes down as one of the strongest tornadoes the modern world has ever seen. And the outbreak goes down as the prolific (thought not most deadly) in Oklahoma history.
Although nothing like May 3rd of 1999, our recent rash of severe weather brought multiple tornadoes to northeast Oklahoma. The strongest of the tornadoes was rated an EF-2 with winds up to 120 mph near Welch where significant structural damage was seen in a very small corridor. Several other tornadoes in Nowata County (by Childers and Curl Creek) were rated EF-1 tornadoes for lesser damage. These and other possible tornadoes reported into the wee hours on May 1st were an appropriate entrance into our most notorious month for severe weather.
Now, while the calendar says it's early May, our current weather pattern seems to say otherwise. The active storm corridor has shifted to our north and we're stuck an unusually warm and muggy air mass, more typical of June. Alas, it's only May 3rd, and we're breaking record warm overnight lows and sweating it out during the day.
Don't expect that to change in the coming days. The unseasonable warmth with the added humidity (thanks in part to recent rainfall) will be with us into the weekend. An isolated storm or two can't be ruled out, but the warm air aloft (what we call the "Cap") will suppress most storm development. Sunday, a cold front will finally sweep in with a trough in the upper-level jet stream making that possible. The storm chances return that night and more seasonable temperatures are expected next week. The coverage, intensity, and timing of the storms next week aren't quite known, but given the time of year, severe weather is a definite possibility.