At 2:56 p.m. on May 20, a violent twister touched down in the town of Moore, Oklahoma. In just forty minutes, the Oklahoma tornado stretched nearly two miles wide, touching down for 20 miles and wreaking havoc on homes, businesses and schools.
As more information comes out about the tornado damage from the Oklahoma tornado, we have compiled a list of facts about the damage and what you can do to help.
How can I help the victims of the Oklahoma tornado?
Disaster recovery directors urge those looking to help with recover efforts to donate funds through the Red Cross.
At National Storm Shelters, we are maximizing your contribution. When you give, we give with you.
We have joined the Red Cross in providing disaster relief to our neighbors across America. If you donate through our Red Cross portal, we’ll match every dollar you give to the Oklahoma or Texas tornado recovery. For more information about our disaster relief efforts, click here.
How strong was the Oklahoma tornado?
Tornadoes are classified and measured on a Fujita scale (F Scale), from EF0 to EF5, by the damage they cause. The F Scale measures approximate wind speeds.
The Oklahoma tornado has been preliminarily classified as an EF4.
National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center meteorologist Rick Smith said the storm was about 17 miles long with maximum wind speeds of about 190 miles per hour.
An EF4 tornado have estimated winds speeds of 207 to 260 mph, which carries enough force to blow over houses, snap trees, send cars flying and demolish buildings.
How did the Oklahoma tornado form and get so large?
Tornado season has been mild up until the deadly tornadoes that struck the Plains and Midwest this week. Beginning with the Granbury, Texas tornado that touched down Wednesday, May 15 killing six people and the latest Oklahoma tornado that ripped through southern Oklahoma City, conditions are ripe for tornadoes to form.
The Oklahoma tornado was formed from a strong line of severe thunderstorm supercells. The areas of Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas, referred to as Tornado Alley, have a perfect environment for spawning supercells and tornadoes as the Rocky Mountain cool and warm air is likely to meet with the warm and moist air of the Gulf of Mexico.
According to LiveScience.com, the central Oklahoma area was right near the jet stream yesterday, which meant that it was near some of the fastest, most variable winds associated with the string of storms. The environment formed a twister that was nearly two miles in wide and touched down for more than forty minutes.
Was the Oklahoma tornado the worst to ever hit the city of Moore?
The Guardian reports that the Oklahoma tornado was one of the most powerful tornadoes that the state ever seen. The city of Moore has been hit by violent tornadoes in the past (1999, 2003 and 2010) with a 1999 storm featuring the strongest winds ever at 317 mph.
How much damage did the Oklahoma tornado cause?
According to Reuters, President Barack Obama declared a major disaster area in Oklahoma, ordering federal aid to supplement state and local efforts in Moore after the deadliest U.S. tornado since 161 people were killed in Joplin, Missouri, two years ago.
Reports of damage from the Oklahoma tornado are still being fielded and the exact dollar amount of damage is yet to be determined. In general, 20 miles of ground were destroyed including two schools, homes and businesses.
As of today at 4:03 p.m., Reuters reported that the Oklahoma tornado killed at least 24 people, nine of which were children, injured 237 people and buried more than 100 survivors who were pulled from the rubble of homes, schools and a hospital. The number of victims will continue to be reported as the week continues.
Did the residents have a warning of the Oklahoma tornado?
The average tornado-warning time frame is 13 minutes. The local National Weather Service office issued a tornado warning 16 minutes before the Oklahoma tornado actually formed.
What tornado safety efforts should be followed during a storm like the Oklahoma tornado?
1.) Have a tornado safety plan in place for your family. Download our free emergency guide and list of storm shelter essentials.
2.) Be aware of changes in the weather and tune into weather reports. TV news stations, radios and mobile alerts are good sources of information. Read our picks for the top weather apps to download for iPhones and Androids.
3.) Heed all tornado warnings and don’t delay in taking cover.
4.) In the event of a tornado, storm shelters that meet industry safety standards are the best place to take cover. The next best option (besides storm shelters) is taking cover in a basement or the lowest possible part of a home. To learn more about storm shelters or safe rooms, download our FREE overview here.