The National Weather Service's Last Pre-Tornado Briefing Warned About School Safety in Oklahoma City Region

By Alexis C. Madrigal

Yesterday, the National Weather Service's Rick Smith posted a briefing to YouTube at 11:30am, which laid out a scenario for the day's weather events that was eerily precise. Specifically, he mentioned schools as an area of concern and highlighted the potential for an EF-4 tornado in the area south of I-40 and east of I-44 between 3 and 6pm. Shortly after 3pm, an EF-4 (or stronger) tornado hit Moore, which is located just south of I-40 and east of I-44.  

It's crushing to realize that this disaster's rough outlines were predicted four hours ahead of time and yet know that this did not stop lives from being lost. 

Here are three excerpts from the sadly prescient forecast:

We'll be talking about our increasing concerns for significant severe weather this afternoon and into this evening. We are expecting more significant severe weather today. The highest impacts we expect will be along and south of Interstate 44. Tornadoes and giant damaging hail are likely today. Something that's a little different today than yesterday is we are on a Monday and we do have schools in session and people driving home from work and that is a big, big concern for us as we expect severe weather potential to peak in that 3-6pm timeframe today...

Supercell storms are expected to develop in this area very quickly between 1 and 2 o'clock this afternoon. They will become severe fast, just like yesterday. We had storms that went from virtually nothing to producing large hail and tornadoes in less than an hour in some cases. So it's gonna go fast today.

If you're south of I-40 and east of I-44, you need to have a heightened state of awareness and be super alert to severe weather. We're expecting conditions today to be just as volatile if not even more so than they were yesterday for tornadoes. We've already had one EF4 tornado confirmed that occurred yesterday near Shawnee. I would not be at all surprised to have similar tornadoes occurring south of I-40, east of I-44. We're not trying to freak you out and scare you, we want you to be prepared. We're not guaranteeing a pinpoint forecast this is definitely going to happen, but you need to plan as if it is and be ready for what you're going to do.

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This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/05/the-national-weather-services-last-pre-tornado-briefing-warned-about-school-safety-in-oklahoma-city-region/276067/