20 of the dead are children. The tornado flattened two schools and wrecked a hospital. There are 145 injured at last count, 70 of them are children.
Vast Oklahoma Tornado Kills at Least 91 - NYTimes.com
The tornado touched down at 2:56 p.m., 16 minutes after the first warning went out, and traveled for 20 miles, said Keli Pirtle, a spokeswoman for the National Weather Service in Norman, Okla. It was on the ground for 40 minutes, she said. It struck the town of Newcastle and traveled about 10 miles to Moore, a populous suburb of Oklahoma City.
Ms. Pirtle said preliminary data suggested that it was a Category 4 tornado on the Enhanced Fujita scale, which measures tornado strength on a scale of 0 to 5. A definitive assessment will not be available until Tuesday, she said.
Moore was the scene of another huge tornado, in May 1999, in which winds reached record speeds of 302 m.p.h., and experts said severe weather was common in the region this time of year.
But the region has rarely had a tornado as big and as powerful as the one on Monday.
Television on Monday showed destruction spread over a vast area, with blocks upon blocks of homes and businesses destroyed. Residents, some partly clothed and apparently caught by surprise, were shown picking through rubble. Several structures were on fire, and cars had been tossed around, flipped over and stacked on top of each other. Kelcy Trowbridge, her husband and their three young children piled into their neighbor’s cellar just outside of Moore and huddled together for about five minutes, wrapped under a blanket as the tornado screamed above them, debris smashing against the cellar door.
They emerged to find their home flattened and the family car resting upside down a few houses away. Ms. Trowbridge’s husband rushed toward what was left of their home and began sifting through the debris, then stopped, and told her to call the police.
He had found the body of a little girl, about 2 or 3 years old, she said.