An EF-2 tornado touched down in Norman, Oklahoma shortly before 4 p.m. today. Norman is home to the National Weather Center and the nation's premier meteorology program at the University of Oklahoma.
Severe structural damage was reported at 12th and Robinson, only a few blocks north of the University of Oklahoma main campus.
I live just 2 blocks east of the University of Oklahoma campus in an older apartment complex. I heard the pounding rain, the punishing wind, and the booming thunder. I stepped onto my balcony and heard the tornado sirens fire almost immediately.
I ran back into my apartment to grab my backpack, laptop, charge cord, and a decent pair of shoes. This process shouldn't have taken as long as it did, however, we lost power a split second after the sirens sounded. After stumbling around my apartment for the better part of a few minutes, I was out the door and down the stairs.
Right as I jumped into my truck, my neighbor below me showed up with groceries in hand. Clearly oblivious to the dire and immediate circumstances, I hoarsely yelled, "Tornado less than a mile away - get to shelter!" Due to the loud rain and constant thunder, I had to repeat my command and offered to give her a lift to the shelter.
We proceeded to fight the severe weather, driving the longest block of my life. I pulled into the parking lot, grabbed my stuff, and we made a dash for the door ... 5 minutes before the tornado was supposed to hit our location, having touched down in the area just minutes earlier.
We made it safely into the building, albeit completely drenched. Upon trekking further into the secure and safe Sarkey's Energy Center, I started to hear barking and mewing. Local denizens had brought their pets into the University of Oklahoma's Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy. Some cats were in arms or carriers, while dogs were on leashes. These 20 soaking wet pet owners and their indebted creatures of affections filled the usually placid commons area.
I texted my parents to alert them of my safe state and proceeded to write this breaking news weather report, soaked to the bone, fresh rain dripping from my hair to the keyboard, alternately staring down a Boston terrier and calico cat.