Moore Tornado: More Lives Saved by Forecast

By: Jon Erdman
Published: May 24, 2013

Tornado Churns Through Moore:  3:14 p.m.

About 3:14 p.m., the tornado then entered the city of Moore, Okla., inflicting heavy damage and claiming two dozen lives.

It was estimated approximately 1,200 homes in Oklahoma City and Moore were affected by the tornado.  Preliminary estimates suggest this single tornado may have inflicted over $2 billion in total damage.

(MORE:  Costliest tornado? | Interactive damage map | Long tornado history)

Again, the death toll could have been much higher.  Almost two years prior to the day, an EF5 tornado tore a swath through Joplin, Mo., claiming 158 lives in the deadliest single U.S. tornado since 1947.

While meteorology clearly cannot pinpoint a massive, violent tornado will affect any given city or town before it's either spotted or there are indications on radar, let's recap the lead times presented here:

  • One to four days prior:  Word "outbreak" mentioned; elevated tornado threat forecast
  • Morning of the event: Peak tornado threat area, timing highlighted
  • 95 minutes before tornado first touched down:  First tornado watch issued
  • 33 minutes before tornado first touched down:  First severe t-storm warning issued
  • 5 minutes before tornado first touched down:  First tornado warning issued
  • 23 minutes before tornado hits Warren Theater, Moore Med. Center:  Tornado emergency issued.

The low death toll for such a violent tornado is a testament to the excellent work of the NWS office in Norman, Okla. (Rick Smith is the Warning Coordination Meteorologist, there), media partners and the emergency management community.  

As overwhelmingly proven with recent disasters such as the April 2011 Superoutbreak and Superstorm Sandy, an investment in the National Weather Service saves lives.  

By staying informed, you can buy yourself additional time to take action when dangerous weather approaches.  Download The Weather Channel app for your smartphone or tablet.  Follow The Weather Channel on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  

Follow Jonathan: Google+ | Twitter

MORE:  Photos from May 19-20 Tornadoes  

A tornado moves past homes in Moore, Okla. on Monday, May 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

  • Moore, Okla.
  • Moore, Okla.: 1999 and 2013
  • Near Shawnee, Okla.
  • Near Shawnee, Okla.
  • Near Shawnee, Okla.
  • Edmond, Okla.
  • Dale, Okla.
  • Dale, Okla.
  • Dale, Okla.
  • Edmond, Okla.
  • Edmond, Okla.

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