May 2013 Tornado Coverage

Deadly tornados tore through several Oklahoma communities on May 19, 20 and 31, 2013. These are the stories of natural disaster and its aftermath, and of communities healing and recovering.

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
11:15 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Six Ways To Prepare For Oklahoma’s Tornado Season

Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

There’s little doubt Oklahomans will be more sensitive and more concerned than usual as the spring storm season approaches after the devastating events of May 2013. Dozens of people died as three violent tornadoes tore across Pottawatomie, Canadian and Cleveland counties within a two-week span.

Since September, KGOU has been working to prepare for severe weather in 2014 with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. On March 12, we hosted a panel discussion about tornado preparedness and storm safety at the Moore Public Library, just a few hundred yards from where the May 20 twister crossed Interstate 35.

We learned six things you need to know to prepare for the 2014 tornado season:

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May 2013 Tornado Outbreak
2:14 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

NWS Report Suggests A Plan For Multiple Severe Weather Events

The path of the May 31, 2013 El Reno tornado.
Credit Norman Forecast Office / National Weather Service

The National Weather Service issued a report Friday examining last May's tornados in Oklahoma. The assessment encourages the Norman Forecast Office to develop a plan for more than one severe weather event at a time.

On May 31, eight people died in the El Reno tornado while 13 died from flash flooding that followed heavy rain. National Weather Service Meteorologist Kenneth Harding says each element of a multiple warning system should be weighted based upon its urgency and severity.

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Tornado
8:31 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Moore Approves Tornado Resistant Building Codes

New homes in Moore, Okla. should be able to withstand winds up to 135 miles per hour if built to new building codes passed Monday.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The City of Moore is adopting stricter building codes intended to reduce the damage from high winds. The new regulations should strengthen homes against tornado damage.

The codes approved by the Moore City Council Monday would require hurricane straps that connect the roof of a home to the wall studs. The rules also add anchors that tie the frame to the foundation, continuous plywood bracing and garage doors built to withstand high winds.

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May 2013 Tornados
5:12 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Feds Give Additional $109 Million In Aid To Oklahoma

The aftermath of the May 2013 tornado in Moore, Okla.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan has announced an additional $109 million in disaster aid for Moore and the state of Oklahoma for recovery efforts from last year's tornadoes and other disasters.

Moore will receive nearly $26 million and the state will receive $83 million from the federal agency's community development block grant program.

Monday's announcement is in addition to nearly $28 million in HUD funds announced last August.

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Oklahoma Tornado Project
7:30 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Sounding The Social Media Alarm During Severe Weather

Harold Brooks, Rick Smith and Michelann Ooten speak about storm safety at The Oklahoma Tornado Project's March 12, 2014 forum.
Credit Kate Carlton / Oklahoma Tornado Project

With tornado season approaching, many Oklahomans will turn to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to stay informed of the latest hazards. 

Use of these outlets explodes during severe weather outbreaks, as people try to disseminate information, share pictures and update each other on the course of the storm. But despite their ability to quickly deliver breaking news, social media can often contribute to spreading outdated information. 

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State Capitol
9:44 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Looting Could Become Felony In Oklahoma

The aftermath of the May 2013 tornado in Moore, Okla.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Senate has approved legislation that makes looting a felony in Oklahoma.

The Senate passed the measure 36-1 Tuesday evening and sent it to the House for consideration.

The measure by Republican Sen. Anthony Sykes of Moore elevates the crime of looting from a misdemeanor offense to a felony, with a penalty for violations ranging from two to seven years in prison.

Sykes says the measure is a response to incidents of looting after a massive tornado destroyed homes and business in Moore last May.

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Tornado
9:57 am
Wed March 5, 2014

Judge Orders $15 Million Judgment In Woodward Tornado Case

The path of the April 2012 tornado that hit Woodward.
Credit Norman Forecast Office / National Weather Service

An Oklahoma judge says Farmers Insurance and a subsidiary must pay a total of $15 million to three plaintiffs whose homes were damaged in the 2012 Woodward tornado.

District Judge Ray Dean Linder ruled in favor of three plaintiffs who filed breach of contract lawsuits against Farmers Insurance and Foremost Insurance Group. The lawsuit alleged that the insurance companies underpaid claims and used adjusters that they knew would offer low estimates.

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May 2013 Tornado Outbreak
9:54 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Reporter's Notebook: Poor Construction Techniques Doomed Moore Elementary Schools

Gov. Mary Fallin at Plaza Towers elementary school following the May 20, 2013 Moore, Okla. tornado.
Credit The National Guard / Flickr Creative Commons

Friday’s edition of The Journal Record reveals improper construction and violation of building codes led to the destruction of two Moore, Okla. elementary schools when a tornado hit May 20, 2013.

KGOU’s Kurt Gwartney talked with the reporter, M. Scott Carter, who obtained a soon-to-be released report showing a shocking lack of standard building practices in both Briarwood and Plaza Towers elementary schools.

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6:11 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Deathtrap: Moore Tornado Debris Reveals Construction Flaws, Code Violations

Lead in text: 
Detailed in a soon-to-be-released report for the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Structural Engineering Institute, an analysis of the debris of the Briarwood Elementary School showed that several of the building’s steel roof beams were not attached to the walls, many of Briarwood’s cinder-block walls were not properly reinforced with steel rebar and large portions of the walls were not backfilled with concrete.
When the storm came, seven students in the Plaza Towers third-grade center sheltered in the hall. At Briarwood, the students and teachers thought the school building would protect them. Then the tornado hit, and the schools fell. Instead of offering protection on May 20, 2013, Plaza Towers became a deathtrap, Briarwood a pile of rubble.

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