Oklahoma was hit particularly hard by two massive outbreaks this year in what's been another deadly season of tornadoes in the U.S. Despite technology and forecasting improvements, scientists still have plenty to learn about how and why tornadoes form.
Currently, one of the best ways for researchers to understand how tornadoes form is to chase them. So off they go with mobile science laboratories, rushing toward storms armed with research equipment and weather-sensing probes.
For students in Moore, Oklahoma it's not just new backpacks and pencils this year. For many, it's entirely new schools and homes. A tornado ripped through the community nearly three months ago. It destroyed two schools, killed seven students and 18 other people in the city. And tomorrow, students return to class.
Rachel Hubbard, of member station KOSU, checks in with Moore to see how the community is doing.
There are now reports that as many as 18 people died from injuries they received Friday when the latest in a weeks-long series of tornado-spawning storms tore through parts of Oklahoma.
Update at 8:50 p.m. ET. Death Toll Revised:
An update from Oklahoma's Department of Emergency Management Monday evening reports that 12 adults and 6 children died in Friday night's storms, NPR Southern Bureau Chief Russell Lewis tells us. Officials say that they haven't identified all of the victims. Our original post continues:
Tim Samaras had one passion in life: Tornadoes. He told The Weather Channel that when he was kid, his mother sat him down in front of The Wizard of Oz; he was immediately entranced by the violent, dark twister that tore through the landscape.
In Moore, Oklahoma, residents and volunteers are deep into cleanup and not for the first time. Moore has been hit by several powerful tornadoes in the past 15 years. Many residents insist they're staying in Moore despite the danger of tornadoes.
In fact, as we hear from Rachel Hubbard of member station KOSU, it's hard to find someone who wants to leave. But she did find two friends who say they've had enough.
Brian Hock was standing Wednesday evening in what used to be his home but is now 2,000 square feet of nothing. Still resting in a bag of dog food was the cup he uses to scoop kibble, emblazoned with the slogan "Fear not: God's love shines bright."
Hock was at work Monday when the tornado smashed his house in the Heatherwood subdivision of Moore, Okla. He says his daughters survived only because neighbors invited them to share a custom shelter.
Authorities in Moore, Oklahoma say that 12,000 homes were damaged in Monday's tornado. In this next story, we're going to meet one family that was affected, and not for the first time. The Phillips lost their home in a tornado that hit Moore on May 3rd, 1999. They loved the community and bought another house two miles away, a house flattened by Monday's tornado.
Rachel Hubbard, of member station KOSU, toured what's left of their home to try to understand how a family can cope with such a loss twice.