Blog: Remembering the Tulsa tornado a year later

Eight people were taken from TGI Friday's on 41st Street near I-44 Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017 after an EF-2 tornado tore through the area. (KTUL)

TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) -- Six minutes. That’s how long the tornado that hit Tulsa was on the ground, according to the National Weather Service.

But it’s important to remember there were three tornadoes during the very early morning hours of Aug. 6, 2017.

GALLERY | Damage from the rare August tornado in Tulsa

The EF-2 tornado formed east of South Harvard and south of East 36th Street. The worst of the damage occurred between Yale and Sheridan near 41st Street with winds between 120 and 130 mph.

A Tornado Warning was issued after the storm had already ravaged Tulsa. The fact that the storm hit at 1:19 a.m. saved lives. Had this occurred at rush hour, there likely would have been fatalities. Instead there were no casualties and only about 25 reported injuries.

This was about a month before I was named chief meteorologist at KTUL but I had been filling in on weekends and on some of the storm coverage. Looking at the radar data the next day, it wasn’t impressive until the last couple of scans just minutes before it spun up. It was one of those storms you can see in hindsight but at the time very difficult to predict.

The tornado formed along a bow echo and rapidly moved ESE. Then minutes later, at 1:27 a.m., the system set down a tornado in Broken Arrow. The National Weather Service rated the BA tornado as an EF-1. This tornado developed over a neighborhood along and north of East 51st Street South and west of South 177th East Avenue.

The less-talked-about third tornado, rated an EF1, hit east of Oologah at 1:32 a.m. Power poles were snapped, a home damaged and trees and a barn damaged. National Weather Service measured the damage path length at a little more than four miles.

Most tornadoes will have a tornado warning but a few will not. The Tulsa tornado set down in the middle of the night while most were sleeping. There was extensive damage, but the fact there were no fatalities was extremely rare.

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