Major twister hits Oklahoma

Its speed, which largely determines the damage it causes, is still unknown

By Janet Raloff, 17:22 PM May 21, 2013


White, ball-shaped cloud structures in this satellite image point to where intense thunderstorms formed on the afternoon of May 20, 2013. The big round ball at top center is where the killer tornado developed. It ravaged Moore, Okla.Caption: Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC


A major tornado touched down around 2:55 p.m. in an Oklahoma City suburb on May 20. At the time, the National Weather Service tweeted: “TORNADO! On the north side of Newcastle moving east.” Over the next 40 minutes, this twister cut a devastating path through several communities.


Tornadoes are Mother Nature’s most violent storms. Although relatively short-lived, their winds can pack far more power than a hurricane’s.


On May 21, the weather service reported the previous day’s tornado had cut...

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