14 years later: Remembering the May 3, 1999 tornado

TULSA - Friday's morning temperatures may be near historic, but a massive tornado 14 years ago set records.

On May 3, 1999, an EF-5 tornado tore through central Oklahoma, claiming 44 lives. 

The twister produced the strongest winds ever recorded at the time.

"This looks like it could be big, it's lowering," said former KJRH Chief Meteorologist Jeff Lazalier.

PHOTO GALLERY: May 3, 1999 tornado (http://bit.ly/may31999photos)

At one mile wide, nothing in the tornado's path was safe.

"We grabbed the kids," said one Oklahoma City-area victim.

The tornado lifted her husband into the air.

"I reached out and grabbed him, but I could feel the house being ripped away around us," she said.

For 60 miles the tornado destroyed homes and businesses. In addition to the nearly four dozen people killed, 800 more were injured.

It didn't stop there. Another twister set its target on Green Country.

"I'm seeing a tornado making its way toward Sapulpa right now," said Lazalier.

"We heard sirens, got out of there as quick as we could. Grabbed the kids and headed east as far as we could," said a Sapulpa victim.

Dozens of tornadoes swept across the state that day, taking 8,000 homes with them.

But the spirit of Oklahomans remained.

"We have been inundated, I'm pleased to say, with citizens wanting to help," said an Oklahoma City fire official. "And that's Oklahoma."

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