At about 11:30 a.m. (CST time) a tornado warning was issued for parts of Foard, Hardeman, and Wilbarger counties in Texas. A funnel cloud had already been spotted with the same cell near Benjamin. The tornado warning was dropped in Foard and Hardeman Counties, but the tornado warning was extended into Tillman County, Oklahoma. A funnel cloud was again spotted, but this time, near Lockett, a small, unincorporated community just southwest of Vernon. The tornado reportedly touched down at 12:06 p.m., according to eyewitnesses. The tornado traveled into the limits of Vernon, destroying more than 150 homes and businesses. The tornado also destroyed a large grocery store, where one person perished. The tornado went into downtown Vernon, where the county's courthouse sustained extreme damage. Other buildings in downtown Vernon were completely reduced to rubble as the tornado moved out of the city. The tornado crossed the Texas/Oklahoma border and destroyed several farms near Davidson, where two injuries occurred. More than 35 cattle were killed on three farms combined. The tornado lifted just south of Frederick. Following the tornado, the city of Vernon, Texas, declared a tornado emergency as almost 60% of the town was demolished by the tornado. The Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, declared a state of emergency in response to this tornado. On May 17, President Donald Trump visited Vernon and helped many victims of the tornado. A charity was made to raise money for the people who lost homes in the tornado. This was the first tornado of the outbreak.
Anadarko/Bridge Creek/Newcastle/Moore, Oklahoma
1804 – 1857 CST, May 14
280 km/h (175 mph) (1-min)
At about 5:30 p.m. (CST), a tornado warning was issued for the Anadarko, Oklahoma area and surrounding communities in Caddo County. The tornado warning was extended further until 6:04 p.m., when the tornado touched down just WSW of Anadarko. The tornado slowly approached the city, flipping vehicles just before it reached the city limits. A whole entire grove of trees were denuded as they were being "shredded" by the tornado. The tornado entered Anadarko at about 6:10 p.m., completely demolishing homes and businesses as it tore through the northwest corner of the city. A National Guard Armory was completely destroyed, as its metal roof was completely mangles and thrown hundreds of yards away. At least 75 homes and businesses were either damaged or destroyed, causing more than 12 fatalities in Anadarko alone. The tornado moved over rural farmland, producing its first EF4 damage to a farm when the homestead was completely swept away, with only a few traces of debris left. The tornado passed north of Verden, where the tornado destroyed yet another farm. At least 50 cattle were killed on the two farms aforementioned combined. At least seven more farms were destroyed in Grady County, just south of Pocasset and north of Chickasha. A large tubing plant was destroyed just north of Amber. Miraculously, the tornado did not reach within the city limits of Amber, even though it was less than 0.8 miles away. The tornado passed through Bridge Creek, killing two people as it destroyed more than 40 homes in the southern portion of the town. Another fatality occurred just outside of Bridge Creek when a car was blown off of I-44. The tornado then passed directly through Newcastle. The tornado completely leveled a portion of Newcastle Elementary School, but luckily, nobody was inside the building at the time. The janitor of the school building said, "I had just left when I heard about the tornado, and soon enough, the tornado hit the school." The tornado also completely leveled more than 25 homes and a police department building as it was passing through the town. One person was killed in Dave's Diner when they were crushed by the counter. Not only was the Police Department down, but the Fire Station was completely destroyed, which caused major havoc in the city. 35 other homes were completely destroyed before the tornado moved out of Newcastle. The tornado began to make a direct path towards Moore as it was entering Cleveland County. The tornado completely destroyed several homes as it was nearing Moore. The tornado struck SW 175th Terrace, sweeping away more than 75 well-built homes, which killed one person. The tornado then struck a newly-built residential area, completely demolishing homes that were also hit by a tornado in 2018 of EF2 intensity. The tornado threw headstones in Smith Cemetery three miles until they came to rest in downtown Moore. The tornado then crossed I-35, blowing cars off of the road. Most people were trying to escape the tornado. Miraculously, no causalities occurred in any vehicles on I-35. The tornado passed through several other subdivision, killing nine people. The tornado slightly damaged Broadmoore Elementary School, closing it for two weeks until it was repaired. The tornado also downed numerous trees at a golf course before moving out of Moore. The tornado struck another small subdivision just outside of Moore, damaging more than 45 homes. The tornado began to weaken as it passed over Stanley Draper Lake. The tornado downed numerous trees as it passed through a rural area with a few homes. The tornado damaged five more homes before dissipating at 6:57 p.m., just north-northeast of Norman. The cities of Anadarko, Newcastle, and Moore declared tornado emergencies and the Governor of Oklahoma declared a state of emergency in response to the tornado. The tornado killed 29 people and caused more than $1.3 billion (2019 USD) in damages. It was the costliest tornado in Oklahoma history since the 2013 Moore tornado.
0707 – 0729 CST, May 15
220 km/h (140 mph) (1-min)
Early in the morning, a large stovepipe tornado formed just northwest of Tonkawa. The tornado tore the roof off of a well-built house just before entering Blackwell. The tornado crossed I-35 just before entering the city limits of Blackwell, injuring one person. As the tornado entered the town, the tornado damaged a church building and at least ten homes. A double-wide mobile home was completely demolished, killing all four occupants. The tornado then destroyed more than 25 homes, which earned the tornado a low-end EF3 rating, as most of the walls were still standing. Another church building was severely damaged, along with some other homes, injuring eight people. The tornado then tore through central Blackwell, where the tornado heavily damaged Blackwell High School. Blackwell Middle School was also damaged, which caused only one injury to a student who took cover behind a bookshelf. The tornado snapped or uprooted numerous trees throughout the city before it left the city limits. The tornado damaged or destroyed ten homes as it was nearing Newkirk. The tornado stayed over rural farmland until it slammed into Newkirk at 7:20 a.m. The tornado damaged more than 75 homes and businesses in Newkirk, causing ten injuries. The tornado damaged Newkirk High School, where four more injuries occurred. The tornado tore through downtown, severely damaging the Kay County Courthouse and other buildings. The tornado quickly tore through a small neighborhood, destroying three homes. The tornado downed numerous trees before dissipating west of Grainola. Overall, the tornado caused four fatalities.
1306 – 1335 CST, May 15
270 km/h (165 mph) (1-min)
In the afternoon hours, a tornado touched down just northeast of Fairfax, Oklahoma. The tornado remained a rope-like storm, kicking up dust and debris as it moved across remote areas. The tornado was moving towards the city of Pawhuska. City officials took quick action and declared a tornado emergency ahead of the storm. Nearly five minutes after the tornado touched down, it strengthened into a large wedge tornado. The city of Pawhuska experienced power outages prior to the storm, leading to televisions going out, catching many off guard as there was no more news of what was about to strike the city. Tornado sirens began to go off in Pawhuska at around 1:15 p.m. The tornado struck Pawhuska almost immediately after the sirens sounded, damaging or destroying more than 150 buildings in Pawhuska. The tornado missed the main commercial area of Pawhuska, reducing the amount of fatalities in the city. Only five people died, mostly because of the strength of the tornado. High-end EF3 tornado damage was reported at Pawhuska Junior High School, where the school was mostly destroyed. The gym of the school building was collapsed, and the central part of the school building had fallen in. Just north of Pawhuska, numerous trees were uprooted. The tornado exited Pawhuska as a mid-range EF3, fluctuating in intensity as it heavily damaged homes and debarked trees. After a while, the tornado struck Okesa as an EF2 tornado, unroofing homes and snapping trees. Several trailers were completely destroyed as the tornado moved through, but no injuries were reported. The tornado traveled through the Osage Hills State Park, uprooting or snapping hundreds of thousands of trees. The tornado obtained EF2 strength as it traveled through a small subdivision outside of Bartlesville. The tornado damaged several homes throughout the subdivision, causing one injury. The tornado then moved through the Batlesville area, causing heavy damage throughout the city. The tornado completely destroyed a barn, and its debris was found up to 1.3 miles away. The tornado directly passed over a tag agency, nearly destroying the building. A gas station next door was also heavily damaged. The building itself was pretty much destroyed. A gas spill from the gas station was reported later, and the area was evacuated to Barnsdall. Just as the tornado was entering Washington County, it entered a trailer park. At the trailer park, a mobile home was lifted into the air and killed two occupants. The tornado weakened into an EF1 tornado as it was passing through Bartlesville, damaging the roof of a school building. Numerous trees, homes, and businesses were damaged in Bartlesville. The tornado damaged another school building as it was exiting the city. The tornado then weakened into an EF0 tornado as it was entering East Bartlesville. The tornado damaged several restaurants and stores. The tornado also caused shingle and siding damage to more than 150 homes and businesses before lifting at 1:35 p.m. The tornado's lifting location was in the vicinity of Bartlesville. The tornado was responsible for seven deaths and more than $850 million (2019 USD) in damages.
Arkansas City, Kansas
1404 – 1417 CST, May 15
215 km/h (135 mph) (1-min)
A supercell was located near the city of Blackwell, Oklahoma, moving NNE towards the city of Arkansas City, Kansas. The supercell was only severe thunderstorm-warned, which caused confusion throughout the area. There were several reports of a funnel beginning to move towards Arkansas City by 2:00 p.m. The National Weather Service said that the tornado could have touched down while it was still crossing the Oklahoma/Kansas border. The tornado finally touched down at 2:04 p.m. The tornado sirens failed in Arkansas City, which led to a number of fatalities. The sirens were destroyed by a hailstorm that had passed through earlier, and the radar failed to indicate a tornado because the NWS Wichita branch was severely damaged by an EF2 tornado earlier that morning, putting out the radar for two weeks. The tornado touched down as a rope tornado, quickly intensifying into a cone tornado. The tornado slowly moved over the open plains, causing high-end EF2 damage to farms and outbuildings just outside of Arkansas City. The tornado weakened into a mid-range EF2 just before striking Arkansas City. More than 20 homes lost their roof just outside of the city. One high-tension transmission tower was bent to the ground, showing high-end EF2 damage once again. The tornado entered Arkansas City at 2:10 p.m., wreaking havoc throughout the town. The tornado tore through the northern end of Arkansas City, which was the main commercial area of the town, taking out most of the fast food restaurants and grocery stores. Between North 5th Street and North 12th Street, more than 50 homes were either damaged or destroyed by the tornado. One house was irreparable and was one of the sights of fatalities throughout the town. Three people were killed in the home. The tornado damaged an elementary school, killing two people, one student and one teacher. The tornado then downed numerous trees in a nearby park. Across from the park, the tornado destroyed a poorly-anchored home, which resulted in four fatalities. The tornado then passed over State Highway 27, destroying a gas station. At the gas station, the canopy was ripped from the ground and was flipped over. Then the tornado directly passed over a Sonic drive-in, almost destroying it. The tornado also blew the steeple from a church into an elementary school, causing one more fatality. A Long John Silvers building was heavily damaged, where one more fatality also occurred. The tornado passed through a neighborhood, where more than 75 homes were damaged. One church sustained high-end EF1 damage just before exiting out of the city. A nearby pond outside of the city was filled with debris from homes. The tornado downed numerous trees throughout Greens Farm Park just before lifting at 2:17 p.m. The mayor of Arkansas City declared a state of emergency. The governor of Oklahoma and state officials immediately responded. First Aid was provided to the homeless residents after the tornado. Months after the tornado, the tornado sirens were fixed in order to prevent less fatalities from a single tornado in that city ever again. President Donald Trump visited the city of Arkansas City to help the victims of the tornado recover. Overall, the tornado caused more than $1 billion (2019 USD) in damages and 11 fatalities.
1426 – 1502 CST, May 15
315 km/h (195 mph) (1-min)
In the early afternoon, a supercell began to form over Edwards County, Kansas. The supercell caused heavy downpours and flooding in and around the city of Macksville. The cell began to form a hook echo near the city of St. John. A tornado warning was issued at 2:15 p.m. to warn residents near St. John. At 2:24 p.m., a funnel cloud became visible and touched the ground two minutes later. The tornado touched down just NE of St. John. The tornado remained a rope tornado as it moved over open fields. The tornado caused shingle damage to a farmhouse in Reno County. The tornado warning expired because radar indicated that the tornado was rapidly weakening. This was considered poor planning on the National Weather Service's part because the tornado rapidly intensified soon after. By 4:39 p.m., the tornado had strengthened into a large cone tornado just before entering the city of Sterling. The maximum damage in Sterling was rated EF3, where a church was nearly destroyed. Sterling Elementary School sustained high-end EF2 damage. More than 50 homes and businesses were damaged, which caused several injuries throughout the southern portion of Sterling. The tornado moved out of Sterling, miraculously causing no fatalities along its path. The tornado began to shift several directions, and ended up in a sparsely populated area. The tornado became an EF4, wedge tornado before crossing into McPherson County. At that location, a farmhouse was swept away with some debris left, giving the tornado a high-end EF4 rating. Several homes were completely destroyed beyond repair. By this time, the tornado was nearly 1.9 miles wide. The tornado slowly moved into McPherson County, where a high-tension tower was lifted from the ground and thrown into a nearby pond. The tornado passed near the community of Conway, where ground scouring was reported. Debris was also reported in Conway, reportedly "flooding the streets." The tornado entered the extreme southern portion of McPherson, completely destroying a processing plant. The tornado was thought to be an EF5 due to this damage, but was disputed when the plant wasn't fit for winds more than 60 mph. A semi was lifted into the air and thrown into a house, killing one occupant. More than 400 homes were completely destroyed in McPherson, causing an additional 38 fatalities. McPherson Middle School was completely destroyed, which resulted in nine more fatalities. The tornado wreaked more havoc in McPherson by causing a gas fire in downtown. More than 55% of the buildings in downtown McPherson were destroyed, which hurt the city's money. More than $8 million (2019 USD) was lost in the fire. A cemetery was in the direct path of the tornado, which resulted in gravestones being chucked in the air at speeds of more than 150 mph. A Wal-Mart Supercenter was completely destroyed also. Five fatalities occurred there. Overall, 53 fatalities were reported in McPherson. The tornado crossed I-35, flipping over several cars, causing several injuries. The tornado destroyed several more buildings as it moved out of McPherson. Then, the tornado moved right into the city of Galva, causing eight fatalities. More than 80% of Galva was destroyed beyond repair. One home was completely swept away off its foundation. The tornado was originally rated EF5 for that, but the home was found to be poorly-anchored. A school bus was thrown into Galva Middle School, causing several injuries. The tornado began to steadily weaken as it passed through Marion County. The tornado lifted at 3:02 p.m. just NW of Durham. The cities of McPherson and Galva declared states of emergencies following the tornado. Overall, 61 fatalities occurred because of the tornado, which was the highest death toll from a single tornado since the Peru/Wabash, Indiana tornado just two weeks before. Over $3.1 billion was caused by the tornado, making it the costliest tornado on record.
Three metal chicken barns were collapsed, some outbuildings and barns were damaged or destroyed, and two mobile homes were destroyed while another was rolled over onto a vehicle. One person was injured.
Part of the roof was blown off of a house, a camper was blown 50 feet (15 m), and two mobile homes were knocked off their foundations. Four brick walls collapsed at a church's fellowship hall and most of the roof was ripped off of the church itself. Numerous tombstones and other structures at a nearby cemetery were damaged and several trees were downed. The tornado entered Burkburnett, causing damage to garages and vinyl sidings to homes just before lifting.
1 death - A second tornado touched down in Vernon, traveling along U.S. Route 70. The tornado caused damage to the North Texas State Hospital, where injured occupants were after the first major tornado. The tornado went on to strike a college, which was located next to the hospital, causing roof damage and busting out windows. A few dorms and a museum were struck at about the same time, injuring two occupants in the dorms. The tornado struck a few more commercial buildings, including a second hospital before causing three more injuries inside of a Walmart Supercenter. A McDonald's restaurant was damage in the tornado. The tornado moved over an RV park, where the lone fatality occurred. The tornado lifted moments after.
A long-tracked but weak tornado caused minor damage in Estelline. Homes and businesses sustained roof damage. About 25 homes were destroyed in Estelline before the tornado moved towards the Texas/Oklahoma state line. The tornado caused damage to a cattle ranch as soon as it crossed the state line. A few minutes later, the tornado lifted. One injury occurred in a store in Estelline.
A very damaging tornado tracked through northern Aspermont. Many homes, barns, and a church were damaged, some heavily, and a Dairy Queen was destroyed. Numerous mobile home units were destroyed, resulting in one fatality. Numerous trees and power lines were downed along the path, and 11 people were injured. Strong straight-line winds (up to 100 mph) accompanied the tornado, resulting in more damage to structures.
A large wedge tornado caused significant damage to homes and businesses in Benjamin. Trees and power poles were snapped, mobile homes were completely destroyed, and frame homes were heavily damaged. One poorly-anchored frame home was leveled, and vehicles were tossed. Outbuildings were destroyed as well.
A long-tracked tornado damaged or destroyed multiple mobile homes. A large abandoned grain dryer was severely damaged, several large metal silos were completely destroyed, and a large anchored garage was completely demolished. A pick-up truck was moved and a car inside the garage was lifted. Several homes sustained structural damage or damage to their porches and windows. A wrought iron metal fence was heavily damaged. Many other fences and numerous trees were downed.
A metal horse barn and two homes sustained severe damage, while 28 additional houses sustained varying amounts of damage. Grain bins were destroyed, semi-trailers were rolled over, tree branches were snapped, and a boat was moved. A farm house had major roof damage. Power poles were slightly bent over, and a communications tower was damaged as well.
A tornado touched down in the Fort Sill area, causing extensive damage to about 75 buildings. Numerous trees were snapped or uprooted, power lines were downed, vehicles were flipped, and road signs were snapped at the base as a result of this high-end EF1 tornado.
2 deaths - A very intense tornado impacted Chattanooga, destroying about 80% of the city. Over 125 homes were flattened, 20 businesses were completely destroyed, trees were downed and outbuildings were destroyed outside of town as well as a result of this high-end EF3 tornado. Twelve people were injured, three of whom were hospitalized. Two people were killed in the city of Chattanooga. The tornado entered Faxon as a weaker EF2 tornado, causing roofs of homes to be torn off. Some businesses were damaged or destroyed in Faxon just before the tornado roped out and lifted.