Monday, May 20, 2013

Severe Weather

[Moved to the top and updated links.]

The town of Moore, Oklahoma, has been destroyed by a tornado.

A monster tornado ripped through southern Oklahoma City and the suburb of Moore on Monday afternoon, leaving homes and schools in ruins and fires burning out of control.

There was no immediate word on casualties, but aerial footage showed major destruction: homes in rubble, cars flipped over and crushed, residents milling around in shock or combing through debris.

“A large part of the community has been affected,” Jayme Shelton, a spokesman for Moore, told MSNBC.

A forecaster for NBC station KFOR said the tornado was kicking up a debris cloud about 2 miles wide as it tracked east into residential neighborhoods in the Moore area.

Forecasters said the twister could be an EF5, the most devastating category of storm with sustained wind speeds topping 200 mph and “incredible” damage. The National Weather Service will confirm the storm’s intensity.

Oklahoma City police told NBC News southern portions of the city as well as the Moore suburb sustained “major damage… a lot of damage.”

Two elementary schools were heavily damaged, possibly completely destroyed, KFOR reported. Those schools are Briarwood Elementary in Oklahoma City and Plaza Towers Elementary in Moore.

This is the second time the town has been destroyed.  In May 1999, a tornado followed the same path.

Update: MSNBC is reporting at least 51 killed.

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