Tornadic storm in Oklahoma leaves scientists in awe

BY BRYAN PAINTER Modified: February 12, 2009 at 12:01 pm •  Published: February 12, 2009
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LONE GROVE — "The roofs seem to have disintegrated.”

Mike Foster made the statement Wednesday and Rick Smith agreed as the meteorologists with National Weather Service’s Norman Forecast Office surveyed what they classified as an EF-4 tornado at Lone Grove.

At 11:45 a.m. Foster, meteorologist in charge, lowered his camera and said, "Here’s a good question, where’s the roof?” He was looking at a home on the north edge of the community. The engineering appeared good, but still no evidence of a top anywhere. He asked Ed Reed, emergency management director for Carter County, who could only reply, "I asked myself that same question a few minutes ago.”

Foster and Smith, the warning coordination meteorologist, left that home leaning toward an EF-3 rating with wind speeds of 140 miles per hour.

However, about four hours later they arrived at a home on the south side of the community that had no inside standing walls and only part of one outside wall.

After a few minutes, they made the decision — an EF-4 with winds of 165-170 miles per hour.

How did they reach that? They determine an estimated wind speed based on the kind of damage to a particular type of structure. Again, they’re looking at the engineering. Then each time they would return to the van and look through a manual titled "Twenty-Eight Damage Indicators With Photos.



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