Oklahoma Tornado was an EF-5 - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Oklahoma Tornado was an EF-5

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(AP)  The National Weather Service says the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma, was a top-of-the-scale EF-5 twister with winds of at least 200 mph. 
 
Spokeswoman Keli Pirtle said Tuesday the agency upgraded the tornado from an EF-4 on the enhanced Fujita scale to an EF-5 based on what a damage assessment team saw on the ground. The weather service uses the word "incredible" to describe the power of EF-5 storms. 
 
The weather service says the tornado's path was 17 miles long and 1.3 miles wide. 
 
Pirtle says Monday's twister is the first EF-5 tornado of 2013.

The fire chief in Moore, Oklahoma, says crews will search the entire community three more times to make sure that no survivors or victims have been overlooked.
 
New search and rescue teams moved in at dawn today, taking over from the 200 or so emergency responders who had worked all night, looking through blocks of homes and other structures that were destroyed by yesterday's massive tornado.
 
At least 24 people were killed, including at least nine children, and those numbers are expected to climb. Authorities initially said as many as 51 people were dead.

More than 230 people were injured, with 60 still hospitalized.

An emergency official says Oklahoma has reinforced tornado shelters in more than 100 schools across the state, but the two that were hit by this week's storms in suburban Oklahoma City did not have them.
 
Seven children sheltering in above-ground classrooms at the Plaza Towers Elementary School were killed. All appear to have survived at Briarwood Elementary. 
 
Students and parents have been recounting stories of brave teachers who sheltered students but also describing moments of panic and fear. Students at both schools say they were ordered into the halls as the tornado approached. But in both cases, teachers then redirected at least some of the students to places that appeared safer, including a bathroom and a closet. 
 
The director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management says it's up to each jurisdiction to set priorities for which schools get limited funding for safe rooms. Albert Ashwood says authorities are going to review which schools have safe rooms and try to get them in more schools across the state.


Some of the search-and-rescue teams have been focusing their efforts on an elementary school where the storm ripped off the roof, knocked down walls and turned the playground into a mass of twisted plastic and metal, as students and teachers huddled in hallways and bathrooms. Children from the school are among the dead, but several students were pulled alive from under a collapsed wall and other debris.

Oklahoma City's mayor says many other people crawled out of rubble, despite debris being up to four feet high.
  
President Barack Obama says he is instructing his disaster response team to get tornado victims in Oklahoma everything they need "right away."
 
Obama calls the devastation that tore through the Oklahoma City suburbs, quote, "one of the most destructive tornados in history," even though he said the extent of the damage is still unknown.
 
Obama spoke Tuesday after an Oval Office briefing on the latest developments from his disaster response team and as Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Craig Fugate was heading to Oklahoma.
 
Obama has declared a major disaster in Oklahoma, ordering federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts.
 
The president offered prayers and said there's a long road of recovery ahead. But he said the victims won't travel alone and will have the resources they need.

Conservative Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn says that any additional federal aid to help tornado victims and to rebuild devastated areas of his state should be financed with cuts to other programs in the government's $3.6 trillion budget.
 
Spokesman John Hart says it's a position Coburn has consistently held regarding federal spending on disasters dating to the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City.
 
But federal disaster aid such as $60 billion passed earlier this year to rebuild coastal states including New York and New Jersey from Superstorm Sandy typically is approved as "emergency" spending that is simply added to the budget deficit. That may happen again if more aid is need for Oklahoma.
 
Federal disaster aid coffers remain flush from the infusion of Sandy aid.

The suburb of Moore was hit hard by a tornado in 1999. The storm had the highest winds ever recorded near the earth's surface.

If you want to help victims in Oklahoma City, donate to the American Red Cross at http://redcross.org or text REDCROSS to 90999. Family members can all call FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA or go to okstrong.ok.gov.

And on Wednesday - Channel 2 News is joining with the Red Cross and the Atlantis to help raise money for the Oklahoma tornado victims. We'll be set-up to take your donations in the west parking lot of the Atlantis – near the northwest corner of South Virginia and Peckham Lane.

We'll be there from 11:00am to 7:00pm on Wednesday, so come by and see us as we work together to help those affected by today's devastating tornado.

To help search for loved ones, click here. The American Red Cross has set up a site to let family members know they're safe and well, and to search for survivors.  

Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding the devastating tornadoes that struck Oklahoma. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

Our hearts go out to the families whose loved ones were lost, injured or missing in the devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma. Our thoughts are with all those who were affected by this tragedy, including families still searching for their children in the wreckage of two elementary schools.

I commend the heroic efforts of first responders who rushed to the scene and have been working tirelessly to help those who were injured and search for those who are still missing. And I applaud the neighbors and everyday citizens, young and old, who have been courageous in helping.

While we may not know the extent of the damage for some time, we will continue to do everything in our power to help the people of Oklahoma as they recover from these terrible tornadoes. And we will stand vigilant today, ready to send additional assistance as more storms threaten the region.

I know every federal resource will be brought to bear to help the communities affected by this tragedy. I look forward to hearing President Obama's remarks on disaster momentarily. I am pleased that FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate is already in Oklahoma assessing the extent of the damage and deciding how the federal government can best assist. And I will continue to monitor the search and rescue effort.

Whenever tragedy strikes one part of our nation, it strikes us all. And so I pledge the people of Oklahoma our continued support as they begin to rebuild.

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