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1st-11th…A major Spring storm moved through the Rockies Wednesday, providing weather more fit for Winter. Snow fell in the Northern Rockies and into the Plains as the storm strengthened, and Winter Storm Warnings were posted for southern Minnesota and adjacent areas of Wisconsin due to the anticipation of up to a foot of new snow in the area by the end of Thursday. This storm is extending a cool and wet Spring for the Plains and parts of the Midwest. This storm will continue to move into the Plains Thursday, allowing snow to fall from Colorado to Minnesota.
Meanwhile, another storm along the Gulf Coast swept Gulf of Mexico moisture into the Southeast and Florida. This moisture provided wet weather in the form of heavy rain and thunderstorms for the southern half of Florida. This pattern is expected to continue for the next few days as very moist air will continue to stream off the gulf and over the state.
A pair of storm systems affected the country on Wednesday, bringing active weather to some areas. The first storm moved northward through the Southeast and Appalachian Mountains Wednesday, bringing areas of light to moderate rain from North Carolina through New England. Upwards of 3 inches of rain fell on parts of the Northeast, with over 3 inches in Central Park, NY by mid-afternoon. This storm will continue to weaken throughout the rest of the day and into Thursday, allowing precipitation to diminish. The second storm moved through the Rockies and into the western Plains. This storm was not as strong as the previous storm that brought several inches of snow to the Plains and Upper Midwest, but scattered rain and even some thunderstorms were noted from eastern Colorado through Minnesota.
Showers and thunderstorms developed over the Eastern States on Friday, while severe thunderstorms developed in eastern Texas. The storms developed along a strong cold front that stretched from a low pressure system over the Great Lakes and Northeast, through the Eastern Valleys and Lower Mississippi River Valley, into the central Texas. Heavy rainfall, strong winds, and large hail has been reported from the Lower Great Lakes through central Texas as some of these storms have turned severe. Quarter size hail was reported at Houma, Louisana, and Houston, Texas while 60 mph winds were reported at Bay City, Texas. Heaviest rainfall was reported at Beaumont, Texas with a mid-day total of 4.95 inches of rain. This caused major flooding for southeastern Texas and southern Louisiana. This system has a history of producing tornadoes, but they have not yet been reported with this system by mid-day on Friday.
19th-25th…A tornado at least a half mile-wide with 200mph winds churned through Oklahoma City's suburbs Monday afternoon, killing at least 51 and
causing significant property damage for the second day in a row, forcing
rescue crews to search for survivors in the debris of flattened homes,
businesses and two schools. Amy Elliott, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office, said the death toll is expected to rise. Oklahoma City Police say seven of those deaths were children at Plaza Towers Elementary School, which was hit by the tornado, Fox 25 reports. Oklahoma police also told Fox News' Casey Stegall, on the ground in Moore, Okla., that at least four people were killed at a 7-11 convenience store. Television footage on Monday afternoon showed homes and buildings that had been reduced to rubble in Moore, which is south of Oklahoma City. Footage also showed vehicles littering roadways south and southwest of Oklahoma City. OU Medical Center spokesman Scott Coppenbarger said the hospital and a nearby children's hospital are treating approximately 85 patients, including 65 children, with conditions ranging from minor injuries to critical. Integris Southwest Medical Center spokeswoman Brooke Cayot said 10 of 37 patients being treated at that facility Monday are listed in critical condition. Twelve are in serious and 15 others are listed in fair or good condition. Cayot said five of the patients at Integris are children, including two who came from the Plaza Towers Elementary School. Search and rescue crews are now looking for anyone who may be trapped in the rubble. Aerial flyovers showed crowds of residents picking through debris Monday afternoon, while one resident told Fox News that children were trapped under cars at an elementary school.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said in a news conference that "hearts are broken" for parents wondering about the fate of their children, and search and rescue efforts will continue throughout the night. Briarwood Elementary School in Moore, one of two schools hit, suffered "extensive damage," according to Gary Knight with the Oklahoma City Police Department. At the Plaza Towers Elementary School, students were hugging and clinging to the walls of the school as the tornado passed over, KFOR reports. An Associated Press photographer saw several children being pulled out of what was left of the school. The school's roof appeared mangled and the walls had fallen in or had collapsed. Rescue workers lifted children from the rubble before they were passed down a human chain and taken to a triage center set up in the school's parking lot.
While the tornado was passing over the school, students were hugging and clinging to the walls, KFOR reports. There are 24 students believed to be in the rubble at the school, but the report could not be confirmed. A Norman, Okla. regional health system spokesperson also told Fox News that Moore Medical Center, the only hospital in the city, also suffered "extensive structural damage," as the tornado demolished the second
floor of the hospital and tore off part of the roof. The center evacuated 30 patients to two other hospitals in Norman, OK. The National Weather Service said the tornado was on the ground for nearly 40 minutes, with the first tornado warning coming 16 minutes before it touched down. The preliminary damage rating on the enhanced fujita scale was EF4 -- the second most-powerful type of twister – and carved a 20-mile path through Newcastle, Moore and South Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City Police Capt. Dexter Nelson said downed power lines and open gas lines now a risk for rescue teams in the aftermath of the system. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation closed I-35 in both directions near Norman, Okla., to assist with cleaning up the debris. "This is absolute devastation like nothing I've ever seen before," Betsy Randolph, with Oklahoma State Police told Fox 25." This may be worse than the May 3rd, 1999 tornado."
The strongest winds on earth -- 302 mph -- were recorded near Moore that year. On Monday night, President Barack Obama spoke with Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin to express his concern for those impacted by the storm. Obama
said FEMA is ready to provide all available assistance as part of the recovery. In advance of the storm, the Oklahoma House of Representatives stopped work so Capitol employees could take shelter in the basement. Television and radio broadcasters urged residents to take shelter because the storm's strength and size. The Storm Prediction Center in Norman had predicted a major outbreak of severe weather Monday in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. The National Weather Service has also issued tornado watches and warnings for counties in Missouri, Nebraska, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Oklahoma state medical examiner's office spokeswoman Amy Elliott on Monday said the two people killed in the tornado were 79-year-old Glen Irish and 76-year-old Billy Hutchinson. Both men were from Shawnee. Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth said one man, later identified as Irish, was found dead out in the open at Steelman Estates, but the sheriff didn't have details on where he had lived. You can see where there's absolutely nothing, then there are places where you have mobile home frames on top of each other, debris piled up, Booth said. â€œIt looks like there's been heavy equipment in there on a demolition tour ... It's pretty bad. It's pretty much wiped out. A storm spotter told the National Weather Service that the tornado
the landscape in the park and an area along Interstate 40. Officials said drivers should expect delays along the highway in Shawnee as crews continue to clean up storm debris. Westbound Interstate 40 was closed Sunday night at U.S. 177 after storms ripped through the area. U.S. 177 was also shut down because of vehicle accidents caused by the severe weather. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation said northbound U.S. 177 at I-40 was reopened as of 7 a.m. Monday. Gov. Mary Fallin declared an emergency for 16 Oklahoma counties because of the severe storms and flooding. The declaration lets local governments acquire goods quickly to respond to their residents' needs and puts the state in line for federal help if it becomes necessary. Dozen of counties in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Missouri were placed under tornado watches and warnings that were in effect through late Sunday. In Wichita, KS, a tornado touched down near Mid-Content Airport on the city's southwest side shortly before 4 p.m., knocking out power to thousands of homes and businesses but bypassing the most populated areas of Kansas' biggest city. The Wichita tornado was an EF1 -- the strength of tornado on the enhanced Fujita scale -- with winds of 110 mph, according to the weather service. Carl Brewer, the mayor of Wichita, told Fox News that the city was hit harder by high winds and golf ball-sized hail than anything from the tornado.
Heavy rainfall and strong thunderstorms developed over southern Texas and northern Mexico on Friday, as onshore flow from the Gulf of Mexico maintained warm and humid conditions. Rainfall totals reached over 2 inches by mid-day for the region. Uvalde, Texas saw a mid-day total of 2.06 inches of rain. Wind gusts up to 50 mph also accompanied this system. To the north, showers and thunderstorms developed over the Plains as a broad low pressure system moved off the Rockies and into the Plains. This pushed a warm front eastward, which allowed for showers and thunderstorms to pop up from North Dakota through Kansas. Meanwhile in the East, a trough of low pressure and associated cold front allowed for showers and thunderstorms to persist from the Mid-Atlantic states through Maine. Strong winds and heavy rainfall were reported from Pennsylvania through Maine.
26th-31st…Tornadoes rolled in from the prairie and slammed Oklahoma City and its suburbs, trapping people in their vehicles as a storm swept down an interstate highway while commuters tried to beat it home. Five people were killed, including a mother and baby killed near Union City. Another person died at El Reno, the first city struck by the storm, said Amy Elliott, a spokeswoman for the state medical examiner. Circumstances involving the other two deaths weren't immediately known, Elliott said.
About 50 people were hurt, five critically, hospital officials said. Meteorologists had warned about particularly nasty weather Friday but said the storm's fury didn't match that of a deadly twister that struck suburban Moore last week. Violent weather also moved through the St. Louis area, ripping part of the roof off a suburban casino. Friday's broad storm in Oklahoma hit during the evening rush hour and stuck around, causing havoc on Interstate 40, a major artery connecting
suburbs east and west of the city, and dropping so much rain on the area
that streets were flooded to a depth of 4 feet. To the south, a severe storm with winds approaching 80 mph rolled into Moore, where a top-of-the-scale EF5 tornado killed 24 on May 20. Rick Smith, the warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service at Norman, said that while. The region was fortunate because the storm touched down mostly in rural areas and missed central Oklahoma City. Heavy rain and hail hampered rescue efforts in Oklahoma City. Frequent lightning roiled the skies well after the main threat had moved east. Highways and streets were clogged late into the night as motorists worked their way around flooded portions of the city. Will Rogers World Airport said flights wouldn't resume until morning, after debris was cleared from runways.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Betsy Randolph said troopers found the bodies of a woman and an infant near their vehicle. Randolph said it's not known if the woman was driving into the storm when it hit around 7
p.m. Friday. Emergency officials reported that numerous injuries occurred in the area along I-40, and Randolph said there were toppled and wrecked cars littering the area. Troopers requested a number of ambulances at I-40 near Yukon, west of Oklahoma City. Standing water was several feet deep, and in some places it looked more like a hurricane had passed through than a tornado. More than 86,000 utility customers were without power. In Missouri, the combination of high water and fallen power lines closed dozen of roads, snarling traffic on highways and side streets in the St. Louis area. At the Hollywood Casino in suburban of Maryland Heights, gamblers rushed from the floor as a storm blew out windows and tore off part of the roof. In Oklahoma, storm chasers with cameras in their cars transmitted video showing a number of funnels dropping from the supercell thunderstorm as it passed south of El Reno and into Oklahoma City just south of downtown. Police urged motorists to leave I-40 and seek a safe place. As the storm bore down on suburban Oklahoma City, Adrian Lillard, 28, of The Village, went to the basement of her mother's office building with a friend, her nieces, nephews and two dogs.
Friday evening's weather came after flash flooding and tornadoes killed three people in Arkansas late Thursday and early Friday. Three others were missing in floods that followed 6 inches of rain in the rugged Ouachita Mountains near Y City, 125 miles west of Little Rock.
Jim G. Munley, jr.
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