"The tornado tore through a 17-mile path, the National Weather Service said," reports WGN. "The agency said survey crews indicated that the twister began 4.4 miles west of the city of Newcastle and ended 4.8 miles east of the city of Moore." More at WGN. The tornado had wind speeds of 190 mph and is officially classified as an EF-5 on the enhanced Fujita scale. A "tornado emergency" was issued, which is more dangerous than a standard "tornado warning." Essentially, all hell broke loose.
Update, 5/21: The medical examiner confirmed 24 people killed in the Moore tornado, nine of those were children. Plaza Towers Elementary was devastated.
KFOR-TV reported that "24 victims are assumed to be in the rubble of the Plaza Towers Elementary school. The effort at the elementary school is now a recovery mission and not a search rescue effort, according to KFOR’s Lance West." Briarwood Elementary School in Moore also took a direct hit.
It was later confirmed that 24 people died, nine of whom where students.
Also See: "Shocking before-and-after photos reveal twister's destruction."
Medical facilities and hospitals suffered heavy damage in Moore. "Norman Regional Hospital officials were asking all clinical staff to report to the Healthplex to help treat storm injuries. Thirteen patients were transported. One was sent to the Norman Regional Healthplex and 12 to Norman Regional. The Moore Medical Center on I-35 sustained major damage and patients were being transferred to Norman Regional’s two Norman campuses. An elementary school in Moore was hit and police were putting search dogs in the building. As of 4:40 p.m. there were no confirmed fatalities at Briarwood Elementary." (Source: The Norman Transcript)
"The massive tornado first touched down in Newcastle and churned toward Interstate 4 and S.W. 149th Street. It ripped down Santa Fe and hit Briarwood Elementary school....The tornado left behind incredible destruction. It wiped out entire neighborhoods, leaving behind piles of debris. There are reports of dozens of injuries. The tornado also hit the Warren Theatre and several nearby businesses." (from News9)
The weather in Oklahoma on Monday was part of a large swath of severe storms that marched across much of the plains, from mid-Texas up to most of Missiouri.
- Massive Tornado Rips Through Oklahoma City Suburbs NPR
- LIVE UPDATES: Tornadoes tear through counties across Okla. KFOR
- Massive Tornado Rips Across Moore, Hits Elementary School News9
- Damage in Moore, Okla., massive, schools hit Times Record News
- 'Major damage' as huge tornado rips through neighborhoods south of Oklahoma City NBC
- Tornado damage track for the Newcastle-Moore-South OKC tornado twitpic
- 'Tornado Emergency': A Rare, Dire Warning Born In Oklahoma NPR
- The Oklahoma Tornadoes and the Pornography of Death American Thinker