One of the quietest starts to the tornado season on record is making up for lost time. After last Wednesday’s deadly tornado outbreak in Texas, the weekend brought back-to-back days with double digit tornado totals. The potential exists for another round of violent tornado-producing thunderstorms this afternoon and evening in the central U.S.
The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center says a huge region, encompassing a population of 60 million people from central Texas through the Great Lakes, could experience severe weather. It includes Minneapolis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Kansas City, St. Louis, Springfield, Oklahoma City, and Dallas.
Within this sprawling region, a smaller section is under a heightened or “moderate risk” of severe weather, from northern Texas through eastern Oklahoma into northwest Arkansas and southern Missouri.
Writes SPC: INITIAL STORMS ARE EXPECTED TO PRODUCE VERY LARGE HAIL AND A FEW TORNADOES. AS STORMS GROW IN COVERAGE…DAMAGING WINDS WILL BECOME AN INCREASING THREAT AS WELL…WHICH COULD BECOME WIDESPREAD THIS EVENING.
Tornado watches have already been posted for a large part of the “moderate risk” area which includes much of central and eastern Oklahoma, hardest hit by the weekend storms.
On Sunday, two tornadoes touched down not far from Oklahoma City – the first tracked near Edmond to the northeast of the city, and the second near Shawnee to the southeast.
Here’s a preliminary map of the track of the two twisters.
— NWS Norman (@NWSNorman) May 20, 2013
Of these two tornadoes, the Shawnee was significantly more violent and has been ranked as an EF-4 on the Enhanced Fujita scale (which spans from 0-5), indicative of winds from 166-200 mph. The Edmond tornado received a lesser preliminary ranking of EF-1, indicative of winds 86 to 110 mph, but still damaged homes.
— Sean Ash (@seanashwx) May 20, 2013
The tornado that passed north of Shawnee carved a devastating path through a mobile home park, killing two people.
Here are some sobering images of the massive damage:
— Jonathan Erdman (@wxjerdman) May 20, 2013
— SevereStudios (@severestudios) May 20, 2013
Overturned semi at I-40 and 177. Really hope everyone is OK. twitter.com/jaclyncosgrove…
— Jaclyn Cosgrove (@jaclyncosgrove) May 20, 2013
More unbelievable damage from tornado that went through a trailer park NW of Shawnee, OK. Image from KFOR. twitter.com/EdPiotrowski/s…
— Ed Piotrowski (@EdPiotrowski) May 20, 2013
Here’s dramatic video of the Edmond tornado posted to YouTube by TornadoVideos.net, includes commentary from Jim Cantore:
Here’s video of the Shawnee tornado which shows its multiple vorticles or swirls within the larger parent tornado, posted to Facebook by Joel Taylor: