In 1999 Oklahoma had 145 tornadoes and 1999 that number was the highest since official records began recording them in 1950.In 11 short years tornadoes are not just more frequent but more devastating. Late in the afternoon on May 22, 2011 this fact was proven in a dramatic fashion. Unlike Texas, the town of Joplin was at least partly prepared when a tornado destroyed nearly a third of the town, affecting roughly 8,000 structures, including homes, churches, schools, and businesses. The insurance payouts were expected to top $2.2 billion, the largest in Missouri history. The state had a large number of basements and storm cellars which gave nearly everyone a place to protect themselves.
This tornado carved a path of destruction a mile wide and 22 miles long which would have killed thousands of people, if that same tornado would have hit any major city in Texas. The twister was an EF-5, the most powerful classification given for a tornado. Winds of at least 200 mph slammed through a neighborhood and 13,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. The human toll was about 33,000 people were affected and among the 24 people killed were children. Again consider the fact that many homes have basements or storm shelters in most homes.
Two years later practically on the same day the town of Moore was visited by a huge tornado, which roared through the Oklahoma City suburb flattening entire neighborhoods and destroyed an elementary school with a direct hit. Over two dozen people lost their lives in the only storm rated EF-5 for that year. Again due to the large number of devastating storms many of the citizens began installing basements and storm shelters unlike towns in Texas.
11 Days later the widest storm on record — 2.6 miles across — was recorded at El Reno. It had winds approaching 300 mph luckily struck the rural part of the state. Just over a year later the town of Norman located 20 miles from downtown Oklahoma City was devastated. Only a short drive to its largest University with nearly 24,000 students the loss of life would have been in the hundreds if they had fewer basements and shelters.
In 2013 Oklahoma had the second-highest number of tornadoes but guess who they were behind? Texas!
Other cities that we service like Austin, San Antonio, Galveston, Amarillo, and Lubbock are all vulnerable to what is coming in the next several years.