May 20 is an especially unlucky day in Oklahoma, and meteorologists are worried that more bad things could happen today as a violent weather outbreak takes root over the midwest. Today marks the 6th anniversary of the lethal tornado outbreak that impacted several schools in Oklahoma including three in Moore. The Plaza Towers Elementary school was completely destroyed, taking with it 7 third graders that were crushed under the school as it caved in from the tornado’s winds. The Briarwood Elementary School was also hit, but fortunately, no students or teachers were killed. The Highland East Junior High School was also hit, destroying its gymnasium and all out-buildings. As with Briarwood, no one was killed at the junior high school. That single tornado was responsible for more than $2billion in damages.
On the afternoon of Monday, May 20, 2013, a large and extremely powerful EF5 tornado ravaged Moore, Oklahoma, and adjacent areas, with peak winds estimated at 210 mph. The tornado touched down just northwest of Newcastle at 2:56pm and remained on the ground for 37 minutes over a 17 mile path, crossing through a very populated portion of Moore. The 1.08 mile wide tornado ultimately killed 24 people and injured 212 more.
The May 20, 2013 storm followed a very similar path to a May 3, 1999 tornado. That EF5 tornado touched down at 6:23pm and traveled 38 miles over 85 minutes, killing 36 people and creating $1billion in damages. That tornado destroyed 8,132 homes, 1,041 apartments, 260 businesses, and more than a dozen public buildings and churches.
Moore is often a tornado hotspot; the school system has been attacked numerous times over the years. Kelley Elementary was destroyed in the 1999 tornado while Southgate/Rippetoe Elementary school was damaged by a tornado in March 2015.
And today, the same region is under attack from Mother Nature, with yet another violent tornado outbreak expected. In the latest Convective Outlook from the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, portions of Texas and Oklahoma have been highlighted in an unusual “HIGH” risk area. This means that widespread severe storms are expected; they’ll be long-lived, very widespread, and particularly intense. The National Weather Service defines a severe thunderstorm as one that has measured wind gusts to or greater than 58mph and/or hail at least 1″ in diameter and/or a tornado. Severe thunderstorms also create an abundance of deadly lightning and can create isolated flash flooding. There is at least a 30% chance that people in the pink “HIGH” risk area will see a tornado touch-down within 25 miles of their location.
Cities included in this significant severe weather event include Oklahoma City, OK, Tulsa, OK, Lubbock, TX, Amarillo, TC, and Abilene, TX.
People in these moderate to high risk areas should be prepared to take immediate action to protect their lives as severe weather blossoms today. The greatest threat of tornadic cells will be this afternoon and this evening.