Severe thunderstorms are a common feature of the climatology of the portion of the midsection of the United States known as the Great Plains (Green 1971, p. 72). The Storms Prediction Center (SPC) defines thunderstorms that bring straight-line winds of 57 mph or greater, and/or hail 1 inch in diameter or larger, and/or tornadoes as severe. Such storms are disproportionally associated with hazard to humans and animals, and damage to crops and property (SPC 2010).
On 15 May 2010, a line of severe thunderstorms moved through central Oklahoma, bringing damaging winds and giant hail. Damage estimates indicated that the storms caused concentrated hail damage in certain areas exceeding any previous storms (Storm Data 2010) and swaths of wind producing damage approaching that normally associated with tornadoes. The storms are widely classified as some of the worst in Oklahoma history (Oklahoma Daily 2010).
Clearly, these storms were important meteorological events even in a portion of the country in which severe thunderstorms are frequent. Thus, a study of the meteorology of this event is a benefit to weather forecasters. The purpose of this is to document these storms and to provide a detailed discussion of the damage they produced. A further specific purpose is to provide an overview of the synoptic environment within which these storms formed and to summarize the thermodynamic and wind shear setting that occurred over central Oklahoma on this day.