The mile-wide tornado that hit Oklahoma City suburbs today is reminiscent of the the May 3, 1999 tornado that wreaked havoc in the same area — killing 46 and causing $1.1 billion in damage.
It could even be worse.
“There appears to be a wider damage path than the May 3 1999 tornado,” Harold Brooks of the National Severe Storms Lab told Business Insider. “We know of at least 2 elementary schools that were hit.”
Recovery crews are sifting through the damage for survivors, and it will be days before we know the full extent of the deadly storm system’s damage.
“It appears to be a violent tornado… an EF4 at least,” Brooks said. An EF4 is the second highest rating on the Enhanced Fujita scale, which rates tornadoes by the damage caused.
These tornadoes are violent, and with wind speeds up to 200 miles per hour. Damage from this tornado typically results in a total loss of the affected structure, so underground shelter is needed to survive unhurt.
The twister that ran through Moore was on the ground for 40 minutes, according to the National Weather Service.
“There’s a whole bunch of other storms that are tornadoing around the area,” Brooks said, and this storm hasn’t petered out yet. It could still move on and produce tornadoes over areas near Shawnee that were hit in storms yesterday.
Today’s tornado has already crossed paths with the path of the deadly May 3 tornado, including the town of Moore, where those elementary schools are, was also destroyed in the 1999 tornado.
Tornadoes are pretty frequent in Oklahoma, but how disastrous they are depends on what part of town they go through, in a rural area, a tornado might not hurt anyone, but if it goes through the centre of the city, there will be a lot of damage.
“We get events of this magnitude every couple of years, and always some of the equation is what gets hit,” Brooks said. “The ones yesterday would have been more deadly if they had hit about 30 miles away. They hit mostly rural areas.”
Yesterday’s storm was also an EF4, but today’s was much worse because it ran through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore.
Brooks isn’t the only one worried about the potential damage from this mile-wide twister, with local meteorologists covering the story are reportedly saying this could be one of the more damaging and severe tornadoes they’ve ever seen.
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