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Events of 3 May 1999

There were 7 locations on 3 May 1999 where tornadoes crossed Interstate highways in central Oklahoma. At 3 of those 7 locations, a highway overpass was directly in the path of the tornado when it crossed the highway and at ALL 3 of those locations – there was a fatality. There were 3 people killed near or underneath highway overpass bridges on May 3. The locations of the fatality occurrences were:

  1. The 16th Street overpass over Interstate 44 in Newcastle (just east of Bridge Creek)
  2. The Shields Boulevard overpass over Interstate 35 in Moore. And
  3. The overpass at mile marker 176.5 on Interstate 35 in rural northwestern Payne County (west of Stillwater).

The 2 overpass deaths associated with the Oklahoma City metro area storm occurred when the tornado was at violent (i.e. F4 or F5) intensity. However, it is of note that the tornado that caused the fatality at Interstate 35 mile marker 176.5 in Payne County was of F2 intensity when it struck the overpass and was NOT in an urban area. This suggests (contrary to the Kansas Turnpike video) that a tornado need not be a large, violent tornado with a considerable debris cloud to cause fatal injuries to people seeking shelter from storms under overpasses. In addition to the fatal injuries to three people, there were also many severe, potentially life-threatening and gruesome injuries inflicted upon people underneath the overpasses that in some cases has left these people with permanent disabilities. These injuries are discussed in more detail on Slide 8.

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