May 6, 2001

A potentially tornadic storm went right over my neighborhood today, and I was caught napping.....literally.

After an exhausting week of work I finally had a day off so I slept in until 3:20pm. That was when I was awakened by continuous thunder. I looked out my window to see pea-sized hail falling with light southerly winds. I checked the radar image on the Internet to see that a small, fairly isolated thunderstorm was right over Norman. The shocker came however when I checked the list of active weather warnings - there was a tornado warning in effect for Cleveland County!!!! I immediately turned the TV to KWTV-9 (which was broadcasting live coverage of the storm over Norman), flipped on the NOAA Wx Radio (which I still can't believe I had off in the first place), and continued to keep an eye out my window.

Over the next few minutes, the wind really began to pick up out of the east as the rain increased in intensity and the hail increased to marble size. Minutes later, we began to get even stronger winds out of the northeast and a few hailstones the size of dimes. Then suddenly, the wind went calm and the precipitation dramatically dropped off in intensity. I look off to my south to see clearing skies along the horizon - and a HUGE rotating cloud base about 1 to 2 miles to my south. There were too many buildings in the way to see the actual bottom of the cloud base - but I still could see the edge of the cloud base, which was displaying rapid vertical motion. Then I looked off to the southwest to see another broad area of cloud base rotation try to get organized. It was almost as if these two circulations were trying to compete with each other. Eventually, the circulation to my south won out - and the curtains of rain and hail moved over my location again as they wrapped around this circulation. We continued to get heavy rain and pea to marble sized hail as the storm slowly moved east-southeast, then things began to clear out around 4:35pm.

Like I said before, this storm caught me napping, and I was unprepared. I didn't get any pictures or video of this storm since my cameras were in my car. What was inexcusable though is that my location was under a tornado warning for over 20 minutes before I knew about it. Had my NOAA Wx Radio been on, it would have sounded a LOUD alarm right as the tornado warning was being issued (in fact, it would have sounded the alarm when the tornado watch was issued at 1pm). The city's tornado sirens are audible from my location, but can be quite difficult to hear from indoors (and certainly aren't loud enough to wake me up). Next time there is even a remote chance of severe weather the next day, you can bet I will make sure my wx radio is turned on before I go to bed.

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