11.42 (05.42) At least four of the victims are thought
to have been killed in a 7-Eleven convenience store after it was
11.35 (05.35) Nick Collins, our science correspondent, has
explained a bit more about tornadoes and why the region known as Tornado
Alley is susceptible to them.
A tornado is a column of air which rotates at extremely high speed and
stretches between a thunderstorm in the air, and the ground below. With wind
speeds reaching above 250mph in severe cases, they are capable of causing
The twisting effect is triggered shortly before a thunderstorm develops, as
the wind changes direction and becomes faster at greater heights. This
causes wind in the lower atmosphere to rotate in a horizontal swirling
pattern, but the rotating current is then pushed upright by rising air
currents within the thunderstorm.
Tornadoes are often preceded by dark, greenish sky, large hailstones and thick
cloud. They are also extremely loud, giving off a roar similar to a freight
train. Some tornadoes are easily visible once they begin to pick up dust and
debris, but others are hidden by rain or cloud. Forecasters can often
predict severe storms well in advance but can only detect a tornado forming
at about 15 minutes notice.
11.30 (05.30) Renee Lee summed up the struggle for many parents with
multiple children who have some children with them and some missing.
Lee is the mother of two daughters Sydney Walker, 16, and Hannah Lee, 8. When
the storm came, she tried to pick Sydney up from school. Sydney told her on
the phone that they wouldn’t let her come in. While Lee and her younger
daughter waited in their home, which wasn’t hit, Sydney was safe in the room
at a local high school.
Lee said she believed Sydney wasn’t hurt and seemed resigned to the severe
There’s been so many of them, it doesn’t even faze me. You just do what you
gotta do. It’s part of living here.
A woman carries her child through a field near the collapsed Plaza
Towers Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma
11.25 (05.25) Dr Steven Godby from Notthingham Trent University says
that the destruction wrought is due to the size of the tornado, the time
spent on the ground and the track it took.
The destruction wrought is due to the size of the tornado, the time it was
on the ground and the track that took it through a built-up area. Moore
County already has an unenviable tornado history – on 3 May 1999 an EF-5
tornado following a very similar path to Monday’s tore through Moore County
killing 36 people and injuring 583. That tornado was one of the costliest in
US history causing losses estimated at $1.4 billion and one of only six
tornadoes to have losses exceeding $1 billion dollars. Aside from the deaths
and injuries, experts in the United States are already suggesting that the
losses from Monday’s tornado may approach that of the Joplin tornado of 22
May 2011, which is the costliest tornado on record at $2.8 billion – that
storm claimed 158 lives.
10.55 (04.55) For a sense of the devastation caused by the tornado, our
graphics team has put together this. It’s Plaza Towers Elementary
School before and after.
10.33 (04.33) This from the New
York Times: When the tornado sirens went off around 2.15pm, the staff of
the AgapeLand Learning Centre, a day care facility, moved 15 children into
two bathrooms, draping them with a protective covering and singing songs
with them to keep them calm.
As the wind ripped off the roof of one of the bathrooms, they all sang “You
Are My Sunshine” to remain calm. None of the children were harmed.
10.25 (04.25) KFOR
news has provided us with a map of the paths of the various tornadoes to
hit Moor – in 1999, 2003 and 2013.
You can see how a portion of the 2013 storm (green) overlaps the 1999 storm
(red), which was an F5 tornado that did around $1.1 billion in damage. 36
people died in that storm and 8,000 homes were badly damaged or destroyed.
10.15 (04.15) Survivor Ricky Stover describes
the terrifying moment when the tornado ripped open the doors to the
cellar where he was sheltering.
10.12 (04.12) Prof Dale Dominey-Howes, a Natural Hazards and disaster
management expert at the University of New South Wales, says the the
Oklahoma tornado is at the upper end of the magnitude scale of tornadoes.
Given its size and the wide area of impact, searching for and rescuing
survivors will stretch emergency services. Further, treating the injured and
reuniting families will be extremely challenging. The response and recovery
effort will require both State and US Federal resources and important
questions must be asked about the effectiveness of early warnings and the
building standards of property that are constructed in places where tornados
like this occur.
10.10 (04.10) The New York Times has mapped the devastation, with preliminary
analysis showing that it touched down at 2.56pm and travelled about
20 miles in 40 minutes.
09.54 (03.54) An amazing video here of an elderly lady, who thought she
had lost everything in the tornado, only
to be reunited with her dog live on air, after the animal emerged
from the rubble of her home.
09.40 (03.40) A family of four, including a baby, have emerged as some
of those killed, according to KFOR.
say the family tried to take shelter in a freezer.
A couple searches for belongings after a tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma
09.38 (03.38) The City of Moore has put together a comprehensive
recovery website that has a raft of phone numbers and contact
information for victims and survivors.
09.25 (03.25) There are reports that seven
children drowned in a pool of water at Plaza Towers Elementary School as
they sheltered from the tornado.
09.20 (03.20) The Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office says the official
death toll remains at 51 but is expected to rise, with officials claiming as
many as 40 more could have been killed.
A woman is pulled from beneath tornado debris at the Plaza Towers School
in Moore, Okla.
09.15 (03.15) Only last month Philip Sherwell, one of our US
correspondents, joined Sean Casey, a “storm chaser” in Arkansas. He
attempts to explain why the area known as “tornado alley” is
susceptible to twisters|.
This swath of land between the Rockies and Appalachian Mountains is
colloquially known as “tornado alley” for good reason – nearly all
the world’s twisters occur here.
The funnels are often encircled by much larger shrouds of debris and dust.
Most have inner wind speeds of less than 110mph, are about 250 ft across and
move across the ground at up 30mph, travelling only a few miles, perhaps
just hundreds of yards, before dissipating. But the bigger twisters can
twist internally at more than 300mph and stretch more than two miles across.
They remain one of the greatest mysteries of meteorology, extremely
difficult to predict even as other weather forecasting techniques have
become more accurate.
Mr Casey’s storm-chasing strategy is to identify the course of a tornado –
no easy task – from radar and the contours of the land and then position the
TIV in its path. The hope is effectively to tether the vehicle to the ground
to withstand the pounding rain and howling winds that can swirl up to 300mph
inside a twister.
09.10 (03.10) Telegraph TV has
sent me this amateur footage from Oklahoma showing the power of the
tornado up close.
09.00 (03.00) One family set their phones to record as they came out of
their storm cellar. They can be heard saying “The Lord Giveth and
the Lord Taketh Away.”
08.50 (02.50) Glenn Lewis, the mayor of Moore, Oklahoma, says the most
recent storm won’t deter the community from rebuilding.
Mr Lewis was the mayor of Moore when the strongest tornado on record hit the
city in 1999.
The whole city looks like a debris field.
Clark Gardner (left) and another man place an American flag on debris in
a neighborhood off of Telephone Road in Moore, Okla.
08.40 (02.40) The US TV channel CBS pulled the season-ending episode of
comedy show ‘Mike & Molly’ because its plot line revolved around a
tornado threatening the couple.
The network said the show’s season finale will air “at an appropriate date”.
08.35 (02.35) The National Weather Service assigned the tornado a
preliminary ranking of F4 on the Fujita Scale, meaning it was the
second most powerful category of tornado with winds of up to 200mph.
An F4 ranking is classified as “devastating damage”. An F5,
the top of the scale is “incredible damage”.
Amazingly, this isn’t the worst tornado to even hitt he same suburb. In 1999, it
was hit by tornado winds of more than 300mph – the highest recorded
speed on the earth’s surface.
08.25 (02.25) Emergency groups are desperately searching the wreckage
of Plaza Towers Elementary School, which took a direct hit on Monday
There was an outpouring of grief on the school’s Facebook page, with messages
from around the county.
God bless you all. Praying that angels are holding up walls to protect anyone
who may still be alive!
Rescuers pull a woman from the wreckage left by a tornado in Oklahoma
08.20 (02.20) Survivors of the tornado have spoken about their lucky
escape. One unidentified woman told CNN:
When I got home I realized that there’s nothing left of my house.
The front is still standing but the back is gone. My bathroom honestly is
untouched. We’ve lost animals. We’ve lost everything.
I and my family’s OK and we’ll make it… But everything’s gone.
08.15 (02.15) Telegraph TV has the first video for us this morning. It
is of Governor Fallin saying “hearts are broken” for parents
who are wondering about the fate of their children after the tornado
destroyed their elementary school.
Gene Tripp sits in his rocking chair where his home once stood after
being destroyed by a tornado hit the area near 149th and Drexel in Oklahoma
08.10 (02.10) The state’s two Republican Senators – Jim Inhofe and Tom
Coburn – could
both be in a slightly awkward position. Both have repeatedly voted
against funding disaster aid for other parts of the country and have opposed
increased funding for FEMA.
They were among those to back a plan to cut disaster relief for victims of
A spokesman for Mr Coburn has confirmed that he will seek to ensure any
additional funding for tornado relief by offset by cuts to federal spending
elsewhere in the budget.
08.05 (02.05) Barack Obama has personally called Mary Fallin, the
governor of Oklahoma, to offer whatever help was needed and has ordered the
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) into action. The
White House overnight released this photo of the President on the
phone to Governor Fallin.
President Obama speaking with Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin from the
White House in Washington
A statement from the White House also said:
This evening the President spoke with Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin to
express his concern for those who have been affected by the severe weather
beginning last night and continuing today. While information is still coming
in, the President made clear that his Administration, through FEMA, stands
ready to provide all available assistance as the Governor’s team responds to
the storm and that he has directed his team to ensure that they are
providing available resources as the response unfolds. FEMA has deployed an
Incident Management Assistance Team to the state emergency operations center
in Oklahoma City to support state and local officials on the ground and
additional personnel and resources stand ready to be dispatched as
necessary. The President told Governor Fallin that the people of Oklahoma
are in his and the First Lady’s thoughts and prayers and, while his team
will continue to keep him updated, he urged her to be in touch directly if
there were additional resources the Administration could provide.
08.00 BST (02.00 Oklahoma – CDT): Good morning and welcome back to our
live coverage of the Oklahoma tornado aftermath.
Yesterday the quiet suburb of Moore in Oklahoma City was
devastated after 91 people – including at least 20 children – were killed by
a monster tornado.
Nick Allen, our US correspondent, writes that questions are being asked
about why a group of youngsters who died underneath their flattened school
had not been moved to a palce of safety.
Desperate parents, clawing at the rubble with their bare hands, joined
firefighters trying to recover up to two dozen missing
eight-and-nine-year-olds at Plaza Towers Elementary School.
Seven bodies were removed of children who reportedly drowned in water under
the wreckage. The lucky ones who were brought out alive were delivered to
safety down a human chain of rescuers.
The giant 200 mph storm tore a path 12 miles long and two miles wide,
obliterating block after block of homes and making a direct hit on Plaza
Towers, which was demolished into heaps of tangled metal and wood.
Nearby, cars were left piled on top of each other like toys and a boat came
to rest on top of a house. Footage from local news helicopters showed a vast
swathe of land that looked like it had been carpet bombed.
Warnings had been issued before the arrival of the huge tornado, and most
of the school’s 440 children had been evacuated to a church a quarter of a
mile away. But around 75 were still in the building when it hit and had been
sheltering in a hall way as their school was ripped apart around them.