Oklahomans Reeling From Severe Storm Overload

Thursday, May 20th 2010, 4:14 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley & Travis Meyer, The News On 6     

TULSA, OK -- Governor Brad Henry is asking the White House to declare 15 Oklahoma counties a disaster area after a week of violent storms.

Five of those counties are in eastern Oklahoma and the governor says he may seek federal aid for Tulsa as well.

5/20/2010 Related Story: Oklahoma Governor Requests Federal Aid For 15 Counties

Those five counties include Mayes, McIntosh, Okfuskee, Okmulgee and Rogers counties.

The images are frightening and for the last ten days it seems as though we've been on severe storm overload.

The National Weather Service says between 20 and 30 tornadoes touched down on May 10th. Three days later, another round of tornadoes rolled through.

The National Weather Service is still counting but they say right now at least 10 twisters touched down across the state last Thursday.

5/14/2010 Related Story: National Weather Service Confirms Seven Tulsa Area Tornadoes Thursday

"I'm not sure there's anything that's normal in Oklahoma weather," said Steve Piltz, National Weather Service.

Steve Piltz with the National Weather Service says the reason for the outbreak is a return to normal.

"We had a strong El Nino event through the winter and the El Nino event, warmer waters in the Pacific Ocean, that's been waning," he said. "So we're going back to our normal global pattern and normal for Oklahoma is bad this time of year."

We've seen our share of outbreaks in May. In 2003 it was dubbed mega-May as 59 tornadoes hit the state and hundreds of people were injured.

"We probably issued severe thunderstorm warnings and tornado warnings out of this office for about a seven or eight day string in a row which is unprecedented," Piltz said.

And it's hard to forget May 1999 when 90 tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma. May 3rd, 1999 was especially tragic as an EF-5 tornado killed 44 people and destroyed hundreds of buildings in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

5/3/2010 Related Story: NEWS 9's Gary England Looks Back at May 3 Deadly Tornado Outbreak

Oklahoma is uniquely situated as warm air from the Gulf of Mexico, dry air from the southwest, and cool air from the north meet together and usually create some wild weather

"Oklahoma weather is either an average of really low or really high whether it's temperatures, snowfall, tornadoes, flooding," Piltz said. "I'm not sure we really have normal weather here."

If the Governor Brad Henry's request is approved, anyone who suffered uninsured storm-related damage in the 15 counties would be eligible for help for housing repairs, temporary housing, or low-interest loans.