Looking Back: 20 Years Since Deadly May 3, 1999 Tornado Outbreak

Friday, May 3rd 2019, 9:57 am
By: News On 6

Friday marks 20 years since the deadly tornado outbreak that killed 44 people and destroyed more than 3,000 homes in Oklahoma. 

On May 3rd, 1999, 72 tornadoes spawned in central Oklahoma, becoming the largest and most destructive tornado outbreak in Oklahoma history. 

The largest tornado was an EF-5 that developed near Chickasha.

The tornado hit Bridge Creek, Newcastle, Moore, Oklahoma City, Midwest City and Del City. 

Bob Mills SkyNews 9 pilot Jim Gardner was tracking the storm that day and says it's a day he hopes he never has to repeat. 

"I had to make a hard turn because we were kind of getting too close; my camera man goes 'look down.' I looked down, I looked down and literally my heart just stopped. I was just ice cold because there was just nothing there," Jim said. 

The EF-5 tornado left a more than 30-mile-long path of destruction that can still be seen today. 

"You can kind of follow the path; all these new roofs on these homes all the way down through here. And you can see the path because those are all new homes. I see it right there. Wow. That's the path," said Jim. 

The deadly storm stretched into Kansas. 

The National Severe Storms Lab says it caused over $1 billion in damage.