Ardmore tornado on the ground, May 7, 1995
It's been fifteen years since May 7, 1995, when two F-3 tornadoes would create havoc over Montague, Love, and Carter Counties.
The first one dropped from the sky at 3:00p.m. It was a large tornado with a path one-half mile wide. It touched down in Montague County, killing a 97 year-old man near Forestburg and injuring 11 other people as it moved quickly northeast. At least 30 houses and two mobile homes were destroyed, many barns and other outbuildings were leveled, utility lines were blown down, and an unknown number of livestock were killed or injured. This large tornado clipped northwestern Cooke County where it began to dissipate near Bulcher, TX at 3:20p.m.
Immediately thereafter, the parent Supercell “cycled” and within moments produced a new tornado just as large as the old one, a half-mile wide F-3 (old scale). It crossed the Red River and headed straight toward Ardmore. It moved over rural Love and Carter Counties where three people were killed. It was here that the funnel reached its maximum intensity. Motorists on I-35 could see the huge funnel approach from the southwest as it crashed through the western side of Ardmore, seriously damaging the Michelin plant and many other structures just after 4p.m. Fortunately, it began to weaken just as it reached Ardmore.
Shortly thereafter the tornado dissipated after traveling on the ground for 34 miles. The total damage path of the two-tornado sequence (both from the same storm cell) was 60 miles. This tornado moved very rapidly at forward speeds over 40mph. Several other weaker tornadoes formed over southern Oklahoma that day, but no deaths or injuries happened with them.
Dollar damage was estimated to be $100 million. This was the most destructive and deadly tornado outbreak in the Red River valley between 1982 (Paris) and Lone Grove (2009).
Further south, the DFW Metroplex was not spared on this day either. An F-1 (old scale) tornado cut a path nearly 1000 feet wide through Watauga, Colleyville and Grapevine for a total damage path of 10 miles. It damaged over 500 structures, including 485 homes and 27 businesses. KXAS-TV reported 70mph wind gusts as part of this same storm complex. Large hail also fell over north Texas from Glen Rose to Granbury and into the Metroplex. Amazingly, there were no deaths and only 4 injuries.
This event added insult to injury as the Metroplex had just endured a catastrophic hailstorm (over $1 Billion in damage, worst in United States history) and flash flooding (16 deaths) two days earlier.