Boom Town: The Fantastical Saga of Oklahoma City, its Chaotic Founding... its Purloined Basketball Team, and the Dream of Becoming a World-class Metropolis
It's the most wonderful time of the year. That's right. It's time for Severe Weather Awareness Week! Woohoo!!!
We are right smack dab in the middle of Tennessee’s Severe Weather Awareness Week which runs from February 25 –March 3. If you’re a weather nerd like I am, be sure to check in with your local Weather Service for all the upcoming Skywarn Spotter Classes and other events.
To celebrate, this year I’m going to highlight a book that’s a bit different. No city has bigger or better weather than Oklahoma City. Here are some fun facts about Oklahoma City tornados (according to the National Weather Service):
- OKC has been hit by 162 tornados since roughly 1880.
- Thirteen violent tornadoes (EF4 or EF5) have hit OKC.
- The OKC area has been struck by two tornadoes on the same day 27 times.
- Twice (1974 and 2013), the immediate OKC area was stuck by five different tornadoes on the same day.
Whew. That’s a lot of weather fun for one place. In his new book Boom Town, author Sam Anderson talks about famed meteorologist Gary England and the role he played in changing the local warning system. I’ve been a fan of England’s for a while now, so when I saw this book, I knew I had to read it.
Turns out, the book is also about OKC’s new basketball team. My brother was a huge NBA fan when we were growing up and he always kinda liked the Seattle SuperSonics. Part of that was because Shawn Kemp grew up in our area and our high school played against his, so we felt like we knew him. I had no idea that the SuperSonics had been sold and moved to the OKC. And they became the Thunder?!? Man, how cool of a mascot is that? I think I’ve gotta get me one of those t-shirts.
Anderson does a great job weaving the story of the city (1889 Land Run, anyone?) with the story of the team. Sometimes authors try this tack, but the book gets confusing and jumpy. Not the case here. I really enjoyed how Anderson paced his book. We get a lot of detail about OKC, but nothing felt tedious or boring. This book was not what I expected, but it was very captivating, nonetheless.
I hope that everyone has a great Severe Weather Awareness week – and that maybe we get a little thunder or some lightning. Just a little. Nothing crazy.
PS One correction: on pg 382 of the hardback edition I read - the El Reno tornado (EF3 - May 31.2013) did not kill Weather Channel employees, as the author claimed. It flipped their car and injured several, including on-air personality Mike Bettes. Instead, the tornado destroyed the car of TWISTEX storm chaser Tim Samaris, killing him, his son Paul, and their chase partner Carl Young. (See the You Might Also Like section for a new bio on Tim. It’s a good one.) Told you I was a weather nerd.