Monday, May 20, 2013

Moore, Oklahoma Tornado

The 12-month period from May 2012 through April 2013 tallied the  fewest number of tornadoes for a 12-month period since 1954.  There were only seven people killed in that 12 month period, the fewest since 1899. The unusually cool spring weather has been responsible for suppressing the severe weather this year. The switch seemed to be flipped about the middle of this month, however.  On May 15 an EF-4 tornado struck Granbury, Texas north of Dallas and an EF-3 hit Cleburne in Johnson County. There have been tornadoes reported on every day since, with 30 tornado reports yesterday, and so far 15 today.

This afternoon one of those tornadoes swept through Moore, Oklahoma, a southern suburb of Oklahoma City. This was a massive, devastating tornado. I watched it on radar and on a live television feed out of Oklahoma City. It was scary to see even though I was hundreds of miles away.  The tornado was at least a mile wide and was on the ground for about 20 miles (all of these numbers are preliminary until a survey can be completed). However, the most stunning realization that came to mind is that this is Moore's second encounter with a catastrophic tornado. On May 3, 1999 a massive tornado, rated F5 with winds in excess of 300 mph, struck Moore, killing 44 people, causing 581 injuries, and $1 billion in damages. Since May 1999 the residents of  Moore have had other encounters with tornadoes, but none the magnitude of today's tornado.

Tracks of the May 3, 1999 and May 20, 2013 Moore tornadoes.
Compiled by the National Weather Service Oklahoma City.

Here is a video of today's tornado as it moved through Moore.

As I write this there are already 51 confirmed fatalities from today's tornado. Rescuers continue to search for survivors in one of three schools that were hit by the tornado. Whole neighborhoods are unrecognizable.  The National Weather Service has preliminarily rated this tornado as an EF-4, but numbers don't convey the anguish of the families of those who lost their lives or the devastation to property that this community has experienced. There are a number of active CoCoRaHS observers in Moore and we hope they and their families are safe.

This tornado was well-warned. The tornado was on the ground for about 40 minutes, and a tornado warning was issued 16 minutes before the tornado developed.  I was astounded to hear people being interviewed state that they didn't know a tornado was approaching. It drives home the fact that no matter how soon warnings are issued, all of us have some personal responsibility to make sure we are aware of what is going on. Do you have a weather radio?  Every home and business should have one! There are smart phone apps that will alert you to severe weather wherever you are. The pendulum may be swinging back on this severe weather season. Make sure you are prepared.

1 comment:

  1. It was on our doorstep... literally.

    We live with this threat every year. The "literal" icing on it was the hail storm at 4 am this morning... shredded all the trees and plants.. but hey.. we still have a home.. more than so many poor souls in Moore.Finally tonight its quiet.. it had started on Sunday with tornadoes on the ground.