A tornado tore through Moore, Oklahoma, a suburb of Oklahoma City, on May 20, reaching wind speeds of up to 200 miles per hour, flattening entire neighborhoods, and destroying Briarwood Elementary School.
The death toll has reached 51, according to local broadcaster News 9, and officials expect the toll to rise as search and rescue teams continue looking for survivors. Another several hundred are trapped by debris at another elementary school.
The tornado is being called one of the worst to hit the entire country, ever. A meteorologist for local broadcaster KFOR-TV, meanwhile, called it ”The worst tornado in the history of the world.”
Though the Moore tornado wasn’t the biggest, longest, or most destructive, the combination of its speed, size, and strength does make it a stunningly destructive storm, according to Smithsonian Magazine.
Maximum size for tornadoes is about two and a half miles in width. The Moore tornado was between a half-mile and a mile wide. And it had wind speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. But perhaps the most potent element was the time on ground—approximately 40 minutes, after taking about 16 minutes to develop.
The powerful Moore tornado has already claimed at least 51 lives and left several hundred others injured; also, tens of thousands of others in or near the city of almost 60,000 have had their lives dramatically shifted.
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