How Dangerous is Tornado Season in Oklahoma

By: Art Gib

It is true that Oklahoma has a long history of being pummeled year after year by volatile tornadoes, usually in the late spring or early summer, causing millions of dollars in damage to vehicles, aircraft, and Oklahoma real estate. The cost in casualties and injuries, however, is typically much lower than might be expected.

April showers are supposed to bring May flowers, but if you live in Oklahoma, April showers may bring tornadoes. Between 1950 and 1995 Oklahoma recorded 2,379 tornadoes of varying severity averaging fifty two tornadoes a year. The average cost in tornado damage to property and Oklahoma real estate a year is $23,221,264.

Tornadoes are one of nature's most violent storms, and although tornadoes occur in many parts of the world, they occur most frequently in the central plains areas of the United States. A tornado is defined as a violently rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground. The most violent tornadoes are capable of tremendous destruction to everything unfortunate enough to by in their path including Oklahoma real estate, with wind speeds of 250 mph or more. Damage paths can be more than one mile wide and fifty miles long. Once a tornado in Broken Bow Oklahoma carried a motel sign thirty miles and dropped it in Arkansas!

On May 3, 1999 sixty six tornadoes broke out in Oklahoma and Kansas. The most significant tornado first touched down southwest of Chickasha Oklahoma and became an F5 (defined by winds 261-318 mph and damage including strong frame houses lifted off foundations and carried considerable distances to disintegrate; automobile sized missiles fly through the air in excess of 100 meters; trees debarked; steel re-enforced concrete structures badly damaged) before dissipating.

The tornado tore through Bridge Creek, Oklahoma and Moore, Oklahoma, causing $1.1 billion in damage to Oklahoma real estate. The F5 tornado was the deadliest (36 killed), costliest ($1 billion in damage), and most violent (first and only F5) tornado on record in Oklahoma. This tornado was the most prolific tornado outbreak in Oklahoma history.

However, despite all the frightening statistics and horror stories of loss and damage to Oklahoma real estate, scientists estimate that there is roughly only three chances in 1,000,000 of having your home flattened by the F4-F5 winds in a violent tornado. So if worries of tornadoes crushing your Oklahoma real estate investments keep you up at night, you can sleep easy.

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