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Storm chasers captured the harrowing scenes of the 2013 Moore, Oklahoma tornado

Friday, May 20th 2022, 4:30 am - On this day in weather history, an EF5 tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma.

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by Chris Mei from The Weather Network, featuring stories about people, communities and events and how weather impacted them.


On Monday, May 20, 2013, at 2:56 p.m., an EF5 tornado devastated Moore, Oklahoma. The tornado directly killed 24 people and injured 212. It also caused an additional two indirect deaths.

Moore, Oklahoma Courtesy World Vision / Lindsey Minerva Moore, Oklahoma. Relief workers found an American flag lying on the ground and propped it up. Courtesy of World Vision/Lindsey Minerva

The tornado was goliath. It started near Newcastle and stayed on the ground for 37 minutes, travelling 27 km. At its peak, the tornado was 1.74 km wide. It had wind speeds as high as 340 km/h.

Moore, Oklahoma Courtesy TWN Moore, Oklahoma. Courtesy of TWN

At around 2:00 p.m., a tornado watch was issued for areas in Grady County. Not even an hour later, a thunderstorm developed. The thunderstorm quickly intensified and started to form supercell characteristics.

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Because the storm was expected to be aggressive, television news outlets headed to the area. The Weather Network's meteorologists Mark Robinson and Jaclyn Whittal also visited the site.

Moore, Oklahoma Courtesy TWN Moore, Oklahoma. Courtesy of TWN

The tornado travelled through populated areas, flattening buildings in its track. It hit the Orr Family Farm and the Celestial Acres horse training area where more than 100 horses were killed.

It then crashed into Briarwood Elementary School but didn't cause any fatalities. It hit Plaza Towers Elementary School, killing seven children who were crushed by a cinder block wall.

It continued its destructive path, flattening businesses, homes, and buildings and crushing cars, trees, and other structures. It dissipated at 3:33 p.m. close to Air Depot Boulevard.

Robinson and Whittal visited a plaza that the tornado had flattened. They met a man who was looking at the rubble. The man told them that his daughter ran a daycare in the plaza and had sheltered the nine children as the tornado hit. The man's daughter and all of the children survived.

To learn more about the 2013 Moore tornado, listen to today's episode of "This Day In Weather History."

Subscribe to 'This Day in Weather History': Apple Podcasts | Amazon Alexa | Google Assistant | Spotify | Google Podcasts | iHeartRadio | Overcast'

Thumbnail: "The EF5 2013 Moore tornado as it passed through south Oklahoma City." Courtesy of Ks0stm/Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0

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