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2039 Oklahoma City-Norman tornado
EF4 tornado (NWS/SPC)
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Date July 23, 2039
Times 1624-1705 CDT
Touchdown location Oklahoma City
Injuries 79
Fatalities 32
Damage $322 million
Areas affected Oklahoma City, Moore, Norman
Part of the
2039 tornado season

The 2039 Oklahoma City-Norman tornado was a very deadly, very violent, and very destructive tornado that occurred during the July 21-24 2039 tornado outbreak and flooding. The tornado occurred on July 23rd, touching down in Oklahoma City at 1624, before travelling through various populated areas, before dissipating on the outskirts of Norman, Oklahoma, by 1705 CDT. The tornado was spawned by a high precipitation supercell, which dropped an estimated 255 mm of rainfall along its path, leading to flash flood warnings being issued by local NWS offices during the tornado.


Synopsis

The storm that spawned the tornado was a cyclic supercell, and so this tornado was one of many during the outbreak. Just one of three EF4's that year, it touched down at 1624 outside Oklahoma City, before moving out through the center of the city, ripping buildings from the ground in the process. In fact, the parent supercell spawned the tornado so quuckly that there wasnt enough time to issue a warning, and so by the time the warning was out, the tornado had already been in the ground 7 minutes. As the tornado grew in size and strength, a tornado emergency was issued for Norman and parts of Oklahoma City as a result. In favt, officials in Norman stated during the tornado "There is a very dangerous tornado on the ground less than 3 miles from the city of Norman. The tornado will be arriving within five minutes, and so all those in the way of the storm must take shelter NOW, and not emerge feom their place of refuge until after the tornado has passed. Beware of flying debros, golf ball sized hail, and heavy rainfall whilst navigating the streets to your designated shelter point. Radar imagery shows an impressive hook echo, defined with a debris ball at its center, where the tornado is. Latest observations from Dopplar radar indicate winds of 175 mph, typical of an EF4 tornado".

As the tornado arrived at Norman at 1645, it brought heavy damage to the outskirts of the city, before passing just west of the city center around 1700 as a rapidly weakening storm. The tornado finally lifted at 1705, although the funnel cloud threatened to touch down again for 5 minutes after the event. In total, 32 people were killed by the tornado, the worst since an EF5 tornado in Kansas the year before.


Rating disputes

The rating of this tornado has been heavily disputed since it was officially rated as an EF4. The tornado was originally assessed as an EF5 due to 3 houses having been swept away on the outskirts of Norman. However, a revised survey of the damage revealed only "very high end" EF4 damage. Again, engineers involved stated: "It is highly possible that EF5 winds did occur, but due to high uncertainties in th damage assessments, an EF4 rating had to be assigned as a result". Dopplar radar at the time of the suspected EF5 damage was reported by storm chasers to be at 210 mph, which would normally qualify as an EF5 tornado. However, whether or not these winds are believable remains a subject of debate.

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