Metro residents recall destructive hail storm of May 16, 2010


OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Hail is a part of life in Oklahoma springtime. We’ve already had two major hail storms hit the Metro in 2020.

On this week, 10 years ago, one storm set the benchmark for hail that we hope to never see again. In Oklahoma, May weather can change in an instant, from sunshine to dark, ominous skies.

The Snow family in northwest Oklahoma City is all too familiar with Mother Nature’s volatility.

Aaron Snow is a local photographer and has a natural propensity to document things.

On May 16, 2010, Aaron picked up a camcorder and started rolling on the dark skies moving in. He quickly ushered his three-year-old son, Sam, indoors before the hail hit.

Aaron caught on camera Oklahoma City’s costliest hail storm on record, from start to finish.

You have to remember that 10 years ago, we didn’t have the same, accessible smartphone technology that we have today.

The video starts with a few large stones and ends with feet of snow, like hail drifts.

Aaron doesn’t need the video to bring back intense memories of this historic storm.

“I felt like it just sat on top of our house, and being that they were like baseball size hailstones, it was like a loud drum just shaking the house, and we were like, ‘Oh no,” Aaron recalled.

The YouTube video immediately went viral with over one million views. Aaron gave us exclusive, never-before-seen video of the aftermath, showing baseball hailstones covering the ground and extensive damage to his two cars outside.

He said his damages totaled around $65,000. The path of the storm cut across the city with hail that was recorded to as being the size of grapefruits! Total damage costs with a storm earlier in the week totaled $1 billion.

On the other side of town, KFOR’s ‘Garden Guru,’ Linda Vater, was caught completely off guard while running errands.

Normally “weather aware,” Linda was distracted by her son coming back home for his first summer after college.

She checked out at the store to discover an empty parking lot and a black sky. Linda tried to outrun the storm but failed.

In a last ditch effort, she headed towards the Waterford Hotel’s overhang. Baseball-size hail shattered her sunroof.

Other people packed under the overhang, forcing Linda to make a run for it to the hotel. Once inside, she realized that she “had a great big gash in my head that wasn’t nearly as serious as it appeared.”

Emergency personnel immediately attended to her head wound. Linda says that she was more concerned about the damage to her famed gardens.

“Now, did it scare the heebie-jeebies out of me? Oh yes. But even then, I was thinking, ‘OH MY GARDEN, OH MY GARDEN! And my house,” Linda said.

Ten years later, Linda Vater is more weather aware.

“I am much more afraid of huge hail storms now, at least in terms of their destructive capabilities, than tornadoes,” she says.

Aaron Snow also reflects on the storm and offers a unique piece of advice to anyone in a giant hailstorm.

“Kind of enjoy the phenomenon of it and watch it, cause there’s nothing you can really do at that point. You just take shelter in your house and just watch it. Maybe stay away from windows,” Aaron said.

Wise words from survivors of the storm.

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