Friday, May 31, 2013

UPDATED: "GIGANTIC" TORNADO SYSTEM CRASHES THROUGH OKLAHOMA CITY AREA

One of four tornadoes near El Reno, OK on May 31, 2013
Photo by Chris Machian/The World-Herald
May 31, 2013 - 6:30 PM CDT - A "tornado emergency" was declared for the El Reno and Oklahoma City area. Four twisters touched down just after 6:00 PM.

UPDATE, JUNE 4: The National Weather Service updated its estimate Tuesday of a tornado that struck El Reno on Friday, May 31. NWS says now that it was an EF5, the strongest tornado classification. It was 2.6 miles wide, a new U.S. record, and had winds of 295 mph. It tracked across 16.2 miles. 

"The previous national record for the width of a tornado was 2.5 miles, set on May 22, 2004, in Hallam, Nebraska," reports NewsOK. "The El Reno tornado began at 6:03 p.m. and ended at 6:43 p.m. A total of 18 people died in the tornado outbreak and in subsequent flooding."

One  twister touched down near Oklahoma City killing a woman and her baby when their vehicle overturned on Interstate 40 near El Reno and Yukon. This was a "multi-vortex" storm cell. tornado emergency was declared for MooreOK as the system moved through the area.

This tornado came less than two weeks after an EF5 tornado hit Moore, killing 24 people.
El Reno is in Canadian County, OK and is approximately 20 miles west of Oklahoma City (map). Oklahoma City is in Oklahoma County.

About 1,000 passengers at the Will Rogers Airport were evacuated to an underground tunnel until the severe weather threats passed.

Oklahoma City radar, 6:46 PM CDT
Earlier updates as they happened on May 31: 

EXPECT HEAVY DAMAGE, MANY INJURIES. Over 50,000 people are without power in Oklahoma City (8:00 PM CDT)

OK Highway Patrol tells @CBSNews: "it is a desperate situation" w/ multiple injuries, vehicles overturned on I-40 

7:55 PM CDT: Funnel over Tinker Air Force Base in OK base right now - 80 mph wind "feeding it" - @NEWS9

7:45 PM CDT: Oklahoma City Fire responding to reports of people trapped in a home on NW 14th @NewsBreaker

7:37 PM CDT: Developing: Update: RT @kfor: Small tornado touchdown reported near 19th St. and Telephone Rd. in Moore, OK @stormchaser4850 2m

7:28 PM CDT: VALLEY BROOK and MOORE, OK take cover now! (7:28pm) pic.twitter.com/hx435vvTcr @severestudios 30s

7:24 PM CDT: DEVELOPING: Moore, OK is in the path of the storm. Tornado Emergency in effect (via @WCL_Shawn)

Oklahoma County Sheriff: Many overturned vehicles and multipe injuries (Live scanner feed)
Oklahoma City Police reporting LOOTING in some damaged areas (Live scanner feed)

7:04 PM CDT: BREAKING: 702 pm - this is a DEADLY situation!! PLEASE TAKE COVER Mustang, Union City, North Moore, Yukon, downtown OKC! @NWSNorman
7:00 PM CDT: Tornado Warning for Canadian, Cleveland and Oklahoma Counties in OK until 7:45 PM CDT... THIS IS A TORNADO EMERGENCY FOR WILEY POST AIRPORT... WILL ROGERS WORLD AIRPORT... BETHANY... DOWNTOWN OKLAHOMA CITY... AND NORTH MOORE... TAKE IMMEDIATE TORNADO PRECAUTIONS NOW. IN ADDITION TO A TORNADO... DANGEROUS AND EXTREMELY LARGE DESTRUCTIVE HAIL UP TO SOFTBALL SIZE IS EXPECTED WITH THIS STORM. (Details
 …
@NWSNorman 6:56pm - funnel/developing tornado just NW of the Outlet Mall along I-40 in OKC.

From Associated Press: "Dramatic television video showed a tornado on the ground west of Oklahoma City....Funnels of various sizes touched the ground Friday evening near El Reno, 25 miles west of downtown Oklahoma City, and at other times funnel clouds remained aloft. Cameras captured debris flying through the air, though radar indicated the storm was going through a mostly rural area south of Interstate 40. The storm was headed toward Oklahoma City, which has more than a million people in the metro area."

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