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Tornadoes kill at least 18

Filed by KOSU News in Feature.
May 31, 2013

This post will be updated. NPR is also covering developments here.

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Updated 7:00 AM 6/4.

At least eighteen are dead, and more than 100 injured after tornadoes ripped through central Oklahoma starting around 5:45 PM Friday night, and heavy rains led to flooding through the metro area. Governor Fallin said on Sunday that there are still some missing, with search and recovery still continuing.

The tornado, at times as wide as a mile, moved parallel to Interstate 40, just south of the thoroughfare before jumping up to the roadway east of El Reno (preliminary track from the National Weather Service here).

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol confirms a mother and child were killed when their vehicle was thrown from Interstate 40 southwest of El Reno as the first tornado came through. Canadian County officials report 7 died in that county, and says all 7 were in their cars when they were killed.

News came on Sunday that three widely respected storm chasers were among the dead: Tim Samaras, his son Paul Samaras, and Carl Young. The three were dedicated to learning more about how tornadoes form, and had secured government grants for their research. 

OG and E reports outages have fallen to about 25,000 customers. Oklahoma City, Moore, and Yukon have the vast majority of the outages. Norman and Midwest City also have thousands without power, while less than a thousand are without power in El Reno.

Flooding also inundated downtown Oklahoma City, the Edgemere Park area, and parts of the Mesta Park and Midtown areas, and TV pictures from Saturday morning also showed a major sinkhole in the northeastern part of the city.

Storm chasers pursuing the El Reno tornado also reported significant problems themselves. The Weather Channel’s Mike Bettes had his car tossed by the storm, KFOR’s Emily Sutton’s vehicle had its back windshield blown out, and this video emerged of amateur storm chasers coming perilously close to the strong storm.

On Saturday morning, the Washington Post published a piece arguing that Friday should change how people react to storms, focusing on storm chasers specifically.

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