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A decade since the very rare EF5 tornado occurred

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Ten years ago on May 20, 2013, the most recent EF5 tornado in U.S. history tore through parts of Newcastle and Moore, OK.

It became the fourth violent tornado to strike within the vicinity of Moore itself since May 3, 1999. This also became the deadliest tornado of 2013 as a whole with 24 fatalities.

This area overall has among the biggest troubled histories in the U.S. when it comes to tornadic activity.

A series of tornadoes had already broke out within the week before the EF5 on May 20. More action took place on May 20 itself as a collection of supercells fired off of a dryline in central Oklahoma. The storm that ultimately produced the Moore tornado developed near Chickasha.

At 2:56 PM CDT, the aforementioned storm would drop a tornado near Newcastle. Within minutes, the tornado was already producing damage up to EF4 intensity.

Image courtesy of NWS Norman. The Moore, OK EF5 around 3 PM CDT as it was about to enter the outskirts of Moore, OK.

The National Weather Service then had to rapidly issue a Tornado Emergency for Moore and south Oklahoma City at 3:01 PM CDT, which is the highest level Tornado Warning that exists. The tornado moved at roughly 20 MPH to the east-northeast as it widened going into Cleveland county. Once the tornado passed SW 149th Street and Western Avenue, it destroyed numerous buildings and killed horses at Orr Family Farm.

Then, Briarwood Elementary school would take a violent hit as EF5 level damage occurred. Amazingly, no one at the school was killed. Unfortunately, this was not the case at other schools such as Plaza Towers Elementary in which seven children died there. It is an absolute nightmare to have to wonder if your own kid made it through a tornado directly striking a school or any other place of that matter.

Image courtesy of NWS Norman. Moore, OK supercell on radar as the tornado was producing EF5 level damage.

Nine other people were killed in eight different neighborhood homes within a quarter mile south of Plaza Towers Elementary school. Then, the tornado made a bizarre loop near the intersection of Telephone Road and 4th Street before crossing I-35 in a southeasterly direction.

As the tornado crossed Telephone Road, it damaged the Moore Medical Center significantly. Consistent EF4 damage was still transpiring east of I-35 until it passed Bryant Avenue.

The tornado finally dissipated at 3:35 CDT east of Air Depot Boulevard. Even though the tornado lasted nearly 40 minutes, its path length was only 14 miles due to the slow forward speed. However, the tornado grew to a peak width of 1.1 miles.

Over 300 homes experienced EF4/EF5 damage. One other important thing to note is that this tornado took a bit of a similar path to the F5 on May 3, 1999.

Image courtesy of NWS Norman. Map of local storm reports and warning polygons from May 20-21, 2013 in the NWS Norman forecast area.