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The May 8, 2003 Oklahoma City Area Tornadoes

Two tornadic supercells produced four tornadoes during the afternoon hours of May 8, 2003. These thunderstorms developed near and along a strong dryline which was located across central Oklahoma. One supercell produced three tornadoes that affected Moore, southern Oklahoma City, Midwest City, and Choctaw. A few locations in Moore and southeast Oklahoma City had also been hit by an F5 tornado that moved through the area on May 3, 1999. The General Motors Plant in southeast Oklahoma City sustained some of the most significant damage. Another supercell went on to produce a weak tornado near the town of Red Rock in Noble County, and an F3 tornado in Osage County in the NWS Tulsa forecast area.

This event was the second tornadic event of the day. Several tornadoes moved across south central Oklahoma during the early morning hours of May 8th. This event was also the first of two days in a row where the Oklahoma City Metropolitan area was affected by tornadoes. Several tornadoes, including an F3 tornado, hit the northern parts of the metro area on May 9, 2003. This event occurred during a very active severe weather period in the United States during the first half of May 2003. More than a dozen tornadoes struck the U.S. each day from May 3-11, 2003.

The following two radar images are from the Oklahoma City/Twin Lakes (KTLX) WSR-88D radar. The date/time for these images was at 5:25 pm CDT 5/8/2003, or at about the same time the Oklahoma City tornado was producing damage on Tinker Air Force Base and at the General Motors plant.

Select either image to view a higher resolution image.

Oklahoma City/Twin Lakes (KTLX)
Reflectivity at 525 pm CDT 5/8/2003
Oklahoma City/Twin Lakes (KTLX)
Velocity at 525 pm CDT 5/8/2003
Approximate Path of the
May 8, 2003 OKC Area Tornado
compared to the May 3, 1999 F5 tornado
Approximate Damage Path of the
May 8, 2003 OKC Area Tornado
in and near Moore, Oklahoma
Warning Coordination Meteorologist Rick Smith gives a live weather briefing regarding the developing severe weather situation at 2:35 pm CDT, 5/8/2003. This was the first time a live weather briefing was broadcast via all ten of NWS Norman's weather radio transmitters. Behind Rick forecasters Kenneth James (left) and Bruce Thoren (right) are monitoring the severe weather using AWIPS workstations.


Visible Satellite Image
at 525 pm CDT 5/8/2003 is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.