Our scenic parking spot at Dons Muffler Center and Auto Repair in El Reno Oklahoma. Shredded serpentine belt. Guess that was the sound we heard on our way down into Red Rock Canyon in Hinton OK. Lucky the RV made it as far as it did and did not leave us broke down, stranded on side of the road.
We only made it about 20 miles down Interstate 40 East, from Red Rock Canyon. The temp gauge on the RV motor was reading hot. We stopped at a Walmart in El Reno OK, about 25 miles west of Oklahoma City, fired up the wireless broadband Internet and began searching for local repair shops (and calling to inquire about availability).
We found a repair shop just on the other side of I-40 that agreed to stay open late if necessary to help us out. We quickly drove over to Dons Muffler Center. The owner took a look at our RV and let us know that repairs would require ordering parts (which would not arrive until the next day). Seems both our belts had shredded, He hooked the RV up to a power cord and told us he would have us back on the road as soon as possible.
We timed our trip to make it across the Plains between spring storms. We had to be back on the road as soon as possible to avoid getting caught in the next storms path. We watched the weather closely as the storm crossed the Rockies and was following us across the western Great Plains. Initially, activity was limited to scattered severe storms; however, the threat for organized severe thunderstorms and tornadoes greatly increased as the storm approached.
When we awoke in the morning, it was so humid that everything in the RV was wet. As we waited on the parts to arrive so that Dons Muffler Center could complete the repairs to the RV, we closely monitored the weather reports. Tornadoes began forming from the system as it got closer and closer. Reports of tornadoes touching down in parts of Kansas and Nebraska. Thankfully the repair was finished very quickly once the parts arrived. We got back on the road and hauled ass. Since the storm was now so close we had to drive nearly non stop all the way to Ohio to keep ahead of it.
The risk for significant tornadoes markedly increased over central Oklahoma, especially around the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. A tornado watch was issued for Oklahoma before 3 pm . Not long after, tornadoes began touching down around the city. Over the next week or so, 150+ tornadoes were reported. We are very thankful to have made it out in time.
The extremely large and violent multiple-vortex tornado that struck El Reno Oklahoma is believed to be the widest on record in the United States at 2.6 miles across (killed eight people).
The Shawnee Oklahoma tornado crossed Interstate 40 at exit 181 (U.S. Highway 177). There, a tractor-trailer was blown off an overpass (falling 20 feet) and destroyed, while two other trucks were knocked over on their sides. We had considered a return visit to Firelake Grand Casino in Shawnee, but the weather rushed us along on this part of this road trip, maybe next time we drive across the county.
During a slow moving wedge tornado that remained on the ground for over an hour in Bennington Kansas, a fifth-wheel camper was blown 200 yards.
The tornado outbreak of May 2013 was a prolonged and widespread tornadic event that affected a large portion of the United States. The outbreak was the result of slow-moving but powerful storm systems that produced several strong tornadoes across the Great Plains states, especially in Kansas and Oklahoma. Other strong tornadoes caused severe damage in Texas, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, and Michigan.
Overall, severe weather associated with the storm was responsible for 57 fatalities (35 from tornadoes) and over 400 injuries. Property damage was estimated to be $2–5 billion, making it one of the costliest severe weather events on record.
Special thanks to Dons Muffler Center in El Reno OK. They went above and beyond to make sure we were comfortable, did great work and charged us a fair price – $140 to replace both belts, we removed the ‘doghouse’ in the RV so the mechanic had access to the motor.
A nice perk to where we were ‘stuck’, there was a good Mexican Restaurant right next door, El Charro (voted Oklahoma’s best Mexican Restaurant in 2011). We had a beef taco, a bacon cheeseburger (1/2 lb) with fries, and for dessert, sopapilla bites w/ honey and cheesecake flautas (pastry filled with cheesecake, served with ice cream, whipped cream and a cherry). Dinner was so good, we also ate lunch the next day while waiting on parts to arrive.