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Deadly tornado rips apart Oklahoma town, severe weather in north Texas

Deadly tornado rips apart Oklahoma town, severe weather in north Texas

Severe weather building three miles outside of Muenster, Texas Monday evening. Storms plagued north central Texas for hours after a deadly tornado killed 24 people in Moore, Okla. Photo by James Coreas/Editor-in-Chief

Deadly tornado rips apart Oklahoma town, severe weather in north Texas
May 21
10:11 2013

Staff Report

At 2:56 p.m. Monday, one of the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history tore through Oklahoma City and nearby suburbs, killing 24 people and injuring 145. Moore, a city of about 56,000 people and 10 miles south of Oklahoma City, was hardest hit after the mile-wide tornado crushed Plaza Towers Elementary School where children were trapped in the rubble for hours.

Oklahoma City medical examiner, Amy Elliott, said 70 of the 145 total injured were children and seven of those died. Briarwood Elementary School, which borders Moore, was also destroyed and the building’s roof ripped off. Elliott said initial injured and death counts were inaccurate due to double counting victims. Monday night reports were altered from 91 deaths to 24 confirmed as of this morning.

Victims were being treated at Integris Southwest Medical Center and Oklahoma University Medical Center in Oklahoma City. Students at the University of Oklahoma also reached out on Twitter and opened their doors to those affected. Moore is less than 10 miles north of the university in Norman, Okla.

Keli Pirtle, a spokesperson for the National Weather Service in Norman, Okla., said the tornado was on the ground for 40 minutes and traveled 12 miles. She also said data suggested the twister registered as a Category 4 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, which measures tornadoes’ intensity on a scale of 0 to 5.

Yesterday’s storms were some of the strongest in recent history in the area, producing the most violent tornado since May 1999 when winds up to 302 m.p.h. were recorded and the EF-5 storm killed 42 people. Weather reports showed similar paths between the two deadly tornadoes, both crushing the city of Moore along the way.

Severe weather is common this time of year in the region, as well as in north central Texas. A tornado watch spawned by the Oklahoma City storms was in effect until 10 p.m. for counties along the Oklahoma and Texas border, as well as Clay, Montague, Cooke, Grayson, Denton, Palo Pinto, Jack, Wise, Parker and Tarrant counties. Montague county officials reported a brief tornado on the ground and severe weather continued in Cooke County for much of Monday evening. Both counties are northwest of Denton.

Hamilton and Comanche counties, about 85 miles southwest of Fort Worth, saw damage from another set of storms, and a brief tornado and intermittent cloud rotations were spotted in Hamilton County.

Strong winds ranging from 55 m.p.h. up to 70 m.p.h. were reported, along with up to baseball size hail, throughout the night. No fatalities were reported but there was damage in Montague, Cooke, Hamilton and Comanche counties.

Last week, a tornado ripped through Granbury, Texas, where six people were killed and dozens injured.

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