MOORE, Okla. – It has been 20 years since the May 3, 1999 tornado.
Out of the devastation from that day emerged a new generation of weather enthusiasts. Every meteorologist has a story about how they fell in love with weather.
Kaitlin Frost’s love affair with clouds swirling in the sky began on a steamy afternoon in May. For Frost, May 3, 1999 sparked a passion, which fueled a career.
Frost was only 3-years-old when the tornado hit.
“A lot of people like to argue with me and say, ‘There’s no way you can remember,’ but that’s just a day that you don’t forget,” she said.
The F-5 tornado narrowly missed her house in southeast Oklahoma City. She says that she can remember hearing debris hit her house.
Like the opening scene from the movie ‘Twister,’ Frost emerged from her safe place with a new mission.
“Pretty much from that day on, I begged my parents to take me either to the library or Barnes and Noble and I would pick out a book I like and a book about tornadoes or weather. That was it, that was the routine,” she said.
Inspired by that movie, Frost noticed that the weather chasers in the movies and in real life usually didn’t look like her.
“I think the only female role model I had was Helen Hunt from Twister. It was pretty fictional but that was pretty much all I had and I grasped on to that and I said, ‘I don’t care if there aren’t any women out there right now, I’m going to go regardless,'” she said.
Frost’s raw determination helped her power through the meteorology program at the University of Oklahoma, one of the most competitive programs in the country.
She said that she used to rub the Twister artifact, ‘Dorothy,’ in the National Weather Center for good luck before exams.
Even though it has been 20 years since that horrific afternoon in early May, Frost and so many other Oklahomans still remember May 3, 1999 as if no time had passed.
Now, she feels lucky that she was able to find a silver lining among those dark clouds.
“I think that there can be good that can come out of it. If there’s at least one person that becomes inspired and wants to help people like what happened with me, that makes the difference,” she said.
Coincidentally, Frost graduated high school on May 20, 2013, another big tornado day in Oklahoma when an EF-5 hit Moore, Oklahoma.