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Oklahoma tornadoes: Rare term used in Monday's storms

Once again, ‘tornado emergency' adds significance to the warning
by Bryan Painter Modified: May 26, 2013 at 8:56 pm •  Published: May 20, 2013

“That was the first time we'd used the phrase ‘tornado emergency,' and we used that phrase again today for the same general area, Moore, south Oklahoma City,” Andra said.

“You could probably count on one hand or less the times that we have used that in the intervening years.

“It's very rare that we'll use that term. It's kind of our highest level of urgency and we want to convey that this is a tornado that is among the top, probably 1 percent, in terms of intensity and danger to the population of central Oklahoma that was in the path.”

Andra said the key difference he noticed between Monday and May 3, 1999, was a higher expectation of tornadoes in central Oklahoma going into this storm.

“We specifically highlighted the area, mainly south of Interstate 40 and east of Interstate 44 down to our south,” Andra said.

“So, central/south-central Oklahoma was the focus of the forecast with pretty specific timing for storms to arrive and produce tornadoes.”

Andra said the path was somewhat similar and Monday's tornado “probably had an intensity that is going to ultimately be similar.”

“We don't know, having not surveyed the event yet,” Andra said, “but this is obviously a large, violent tornado that moved through lots of populated area.”

Andra leads the National Weather Service's Norman Forecast Office, which is responsible for 48 counties in Oklahoma and eight in Texas.

by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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