Inside The Tornado !!

Oklahoma City - May 9, 2003
Britotn Road You Tube

We got a little more than we bargained for on May 9th. Oklahoma City was struck by tornadoes for an unbelievable second day in a row. Ron Gravelle and I were in the suburb of Yukon when the tornado struck. We were more than close...We were actually in the tornado!!! There were 2X4's, garbage cans and other debris flying around. We had to scramble to take shelter from the tornado by hiding behind a shopping mall. The video is dramatic to say the least. We continued east to Interstate 35 where a new tornado crossed the highway less than a 1/4 mile ahead of us. The tornado did F3 damage near the highway. Another close call. When it was all over, we assisted the police and other emergency services by helping to clear debris off the interstate and also by providing additional emergency lighting.

Flying Debris 01
The tornado made its first appearance when we spotted debris flying through the air at us. We were just south of Interstate 40 near the town of Yukon. Because of the darkness, the tornado was invisible until it was right on top of us. Immediately, I turned the vehicle so that it was travelling with the wind and floored it to seek shelter behind a nearby mall. Transformers exploded beside us as the tornado cut the power to the area.

Flying Debris 02
The debris swirling around resembled a swarm of bees as we tried to escape. The tornado sirens were blaring and a large chunk of debris slammed into the side of my truck, leaving a dent.

Power Flash 01
From relative safety behind the shopping mall, we finally got a good look at the tornado. Here the funnel cloud is illuminated by the blue flash of either transformers exploding or power lines shorting out.

Power Flash 02
Here's another look at the tornado illuminated by the power flashes. While I was filming the tornado, a large piece of sheet metal lifted up and slammed back down right beside with a thunderous crash. It landed mere feet away.

Britton Road
As the storm continued into Oklahoma City, we followed it and intercepted it again as it crossed I-35. We were listening to the storm spotter reports and the tornado was reported at I-35 and Britton Road, I look up and I see the Britton Road exit sign. At this point, the visibility had deteriorated due to the rain wrapping around the tornado but we were able to stop just as the tornado crossed the highway directly ahead of us.

All traffic was at a standstill and I-35 was shut down for a couple of hours. We assisted the emergency crews on the scene.

Police Crew
There was a lot of debris on the highway and quite a bit of damage nearby.

Downed Power Lines
Power lines were ripped down and lying across the highway.

Water Main
This building had a broken water main and there was concern about possible gas leaks as well.

Power Line Cleanup
Here one of the electrical workers removes downed power lines.