One of the tornadoes that hit the Oklahoma City area on Friday was the widest ever recorded at 2.6 miles. It was rated an EF5, which is the very top of the tornado scale. Nine days earlier, another EF5 had hit Moore, an Oklahoma City suburb. And in 1999, Moore had another of the rare EF5’s. That twister featured winds at 302 m.p.h., the strongest winds ever recorded. On Friday, the extra-wide tornado had winds just short of that, at 300 m.p.h. Good thing it struck out in the country or Oklahoma City would have been blown off the map, with untold numbers of casualties. As it was, 18 people were killed, including two tornado chasers. The three tornadoes that we endured that night paled by comparison. [Read more…]
Oklahoma City and surrounding communities were struck by multiple tornadoes Friday night, killing nine people. This was only 11 days after an EF-5 tornado hit Moore (a southern suburb of OKC). We were in northeast Oklahoma, a long way from the tornadoes that made the news, for my father’s funeral. But our county too had three tornadoes. The funeral was in the morning, but that night the tornado sirens went off three times and we had to scramble to find shelter. [Read more…]
Well, in our travels, we went through Moore, seeing the devastation that was truly awful–in the sense of both “terrible” and in the older sense of “awe-inspiring.” A whole swathe of the city, marking the twister’s path, just obliterated, with houses, businesses, and other structures reduced to unrecognizable piles of debris. Coming back, we went by a forested region outside of town, the trees just knocked over and thrown about like toys.
We didn’t see our two sets of relatives by marriage who lost their homes. They were at work when the tornado struck (a major reason the loss of life was relatively small being that most people in the neighborhoods where it hit the hardest weren’t at home at that time of day). They came back to find their homes blown down to the foundations. We were told that they are feeling philosophical about it all. [Read more…]
Growing up in Oklahoma, in tornado alley, I remember hearing that tornadoes, like lightning, never strike the same place twice. Well, that’s not true. In 1999, Moore, Oklahoma–a big suburb between Oklahoma City and Norman–was struck by a monster tornado, an F-5, one so big scientists had to alter the scale, killing 44 people and wiping out a big swathe of the city. (I happened to be there a couple of days later and saw houses, shopping centers, and office buildings reduced to piles of garbage.) But Moore rebuilt.
Yesterday, Moore was hit again by another huge tornado that might have been even worse. The funnel at the top was two miles across and killed over 50 people (a toll that will likely go higher). I know two families in Moore, relatives by marriage of my wife. We got word that both of them lost their homes.
We’re on the road and should be driving through what’s left of Moore later this week.
UPDATE: Now they are saying 24 were killed, rather than the larger numbers released before. See this.
I was born in Alva, Oklahoma. I have memories of going to Woodward, the biggest town within an hour’s drive, to go to the movies. I had to have been younger than five. Anyway, Woodward was hit by a tornado early yesterday morning, killing five people.
This video is especially eerie. It’s dark, but when the lightning flashes you get just a glimpse of this massively wide funnel.