© 1999 by Linda Moulton Howe May 10, 1999 Baltimore, Maryland - Out of the 76 tornadoes that touched down May 3rd to 4th, Joe Schaefer, Director of the U. S. Storm Prediction Center, says many lives were probably saved by the biggest one because everyone in the weather service could see it coming. That was the F5 vortex that levelled whole subdivisions in Okahoma City. F5s are considered to be one of the most powerful storms on earth and this one was a mile wide and ten miles high so huge that storm trackers could give warnings for more than two hours. Unlike typical tornadoes that break up after moving only a few miles, this F5 traveled 55 miles in a steady path at about 25 miles an hour before breaking up. At one point, police stopped traffic along Route 44 to allow the tornado to pass as it headed toward Oklahoma City. And storm shelters were filling up before the monstrous tornado struck.
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