MOORE — Every since the seventh grade, Gary England knew that he wanted to be a television weather man, even all those years ago growing up in Seiling, Okla.
“My momma, always thought I would end up in Stringtown, there’s a boys prison there,” England joked.
England, who spent several decades on News 9 in Oklahoma City as an on-air weather personality, spoke to a large crowd at the Moore Chamber of Commerce General Membership Luncheon on Tuesday.
“I always feel like I’m at home when I’m in Moore. It’s always great to be with people in Oklahoma, especially here in Moore,” England said.
England joked with the crowd and told them various points of his career which included anything from riding elephants or bulls in Oklahoma parades when he was first starting out. Eventually, England spoke about what was on the minds of most of the people in attendance at the luncheon — tornadoes.
England admitted that the events of May 20 could have been a lot worse.
“Talking to one teacher from Briarwood, she was telling me that each class had 22 kids and by the time the tornado got to the school, she only had eight kids, the rest of them had been picked up,” England said. “We got up that morning and there was kind of a boundary of warm and cold air. We knew with all the practice we had there was going to be tornadoes, but you never know how big and how fast.”
During his speech, England compared the May 3, 1999, tornado to the May 20, 2013, tornado.
“One of the most dramatic things I remember about it, (May 20) was it just grew so quickly. It expanded in width, it expanded in intensity so rapidly. The warnings were good, but this was one of those storms that was very questionable if you should try to flee,” England said. “On the May 3, 1999, tornado, it started in McAllen, Texas, it took forever to get here. There was plenty of warning on May 3. On May 3, the first thing I said was ‘Don’t go outside and look at this because it will kill you.’ Of course, the first thing you did was all go outside. The next thing I said on May 3 was ‘Most structures will not survive this.’ The next thing I said was ‘You people in Moore have time to move to a place of safety.’ The 20th of last year, was very marginal. I never said you have time to move to safety. It formed. It was there. It was a full blown tornado.”
Based upon weather research, England seemed confident that it would be a few years before another large tornado would hit Moore.
“Here in Moore, Oklahoma, you might go another five, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 years before you have another large tornado. You might have some this spring. Everything runs in cycles,” England said.