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    A tornado touches down southwest of Wichita, Kan. near the town of Viola on Sunday, May 19, 2013. The tornado was part of a line of storms that past through the central plains on Sunday. (AP Photo/The Wichita Eagle, Travis Heying)
    Updated 8:29 p.m. EDT Sunday, May 19, 2013

    EDMOND, Okla. (AP) - A powerful storm system rumbled through the Plains and upper Midwest on Sunday, spawning tornadoes that damaged homes and buildings near Oklahoma City and put the Tulsa area on high-alert.

    There were no immediate reports of injuries caused by any of the tornadoes that touched down in Oklahoma and Kansas, including one that hit the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond before moving northeast toward Tulsa, 90 miles to the northeast.

    For days, forecasters had been warning about the possibility of tornadoes from a weekend storm, and emergency responders as far north as Minnesota and as far south as Texas were keeping a close eye on the powerful system pushing eastward and northward through the nation's breadbasket.

    "I knew it was coming," said Randy Grau, who huddled with his wife and two young boys in their Edmond's home's safe room when the tornado hit. He said he peered out his window as the weather worsened and believed he saw a flock of birds heading down the street.

    "Then I realized it was swirling debris. That's when we shut the door of the safe room, said Grau, adding that they sheltered in the room for 10 minutes.

    In Wichita, Kan., a tornado touched down near Mid-Content Airport on the city's southwest side shortly before 4 p.m., knocking out power to 7,500 homes and businesses but bypassing the most populated areas of Kansas' biggest city.

    "At this point, there are very few reports of damage and no reports of fatalities or injuries, and we're very grateful for that," said Sedgwick County Emergency Management Director Randy Duncan.

    In Oklahoma, aerial television news footage showed homes that appeared to have suffered significant damage northeast of Oklahoma City. Some outbuildings appeared to have been leveled, and some homes' roofs or walls had been knocked down.

    "When I first drove into the neighborhood, I didn't see any major damage until I pulled into the front of my house," said Csabe Mathe, of Edmond, who found a part of his neighbor's fence in his swimming pool. "My reaction was: I hope insurance pays for the cleaning."

    "I typically have two trash cans, and now I have five in my driveway."

    The Storm Prediction Center had been warning about severe weather in the region since Wednesday, and on Friday, it zeroed in on Sunday as the day the storm system would likely pass through.

    "They've been calling for this all day," Edmond resident Anita Wright said after riding out the twister in an underground shelter. She and her husband Ed emerged from their hiding place to find uprooted trees, downed limbs and damaged gutters in their home.

    In Katie Leathers' backyard, the family's trampoline was tossed through a section of fence and a giant tree uprooted.

    "I saw all the trees waving, and that's when I grabbed everyone and got into two closets," Leathers said. "All these trees just snapped."

    RELATED ON SKYE: 18 Incredible Photos of Tornadoes

     

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    Sunday, May 19, 11:20 p.m. ET

    Jerry Dirks, at right, hugs her friend Earlene Langley after a tornado hit Driks' home just south of Carney Okla., on Sunday, May 19, 2013. Dirks was in her cellar at the time the tornado hit. (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Bryan Terry)

    SHAWNEE, Okla. (AP) - One of several tornadoes that touched down Sunday in Oklahoma turned homes in a trailer park near Oklahoma City into splinters and rubble and sent frightened residents along a 100-mile corridor scurrying for shelter.

    The tornadoes that touched down in Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa were part of a massive, northeastward-moving storm system that stretched from Texas to Minnesota.

    At least four separate tornadoes touched down in central Oklahoma late Sunday afternoon, including one near the town of Shawnee, 35 miles southeast of Oklahoma City, that laid waste to much of a mobile home park.

    Across the state, 21 people were injured, not including those who suffered bumps and bruises and chose not to visit a hospital, said Keli Cain, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.

    Following the twisters, local emergency officials went from home site to home site in an effort to account for everyone. Cain said that, many times in such situations, people who are not found immediately are discovered later to have left the area ahead of the storm.

    Forecasters had been warning of a general storm outbreak since Wednesday, and for Sunday's storms some residents had more than a half-hour's notice that a twister was on the way. Tornado watches and warnings were in effect through late Sunday in much of the nation's midsection.

    SEE ON SKYE: Stunning Video of Tornadoes in Kansas

    The trailer park west of Shawnee was among the hardest-hit areas, and among the hardest to reach, as tractor-trailers that forced the closure of a section of Interstate 40 north of the site and power lines draped across roads to the south.

    James Hoke lives with his wife and two children in Steelman Estates Mobile Home Park. He said the family went into their storm cellar as the storm approached. When they came out, their mobile home had vanished.

    "It took a dead hit," Hoke said.

    A storm spotter told the National Weather Service that the tornado left the earth "scoured" at the mobile home park.

    "It seemed like it went on forever. It was a big rumbling for a long time," said Shawn Savory, standing outside his damaged remodeling business in Shawnee. "It was close enough that you could feel like you could reach out and touch it."

    Tornadoes were also reported at Edmond, Arcadia and near Wellston to the north and northeast of Oklahoma City. The supercell that generated the twisters weakened as it approached Tulsa, 90 miles to the northeast.

    "I knew it was coming," said Randy Grau, who huddled with his wife and two young sons in their Edmond home's safe room when the tornado hit. He said he peered out his window as the weather worsened and believed he saw a flock of birds heading down the street.

    "Then I realized it was swirling debris. That's when we shut the door of the safe room," said Grau, adding that they remained in the room for 10 minutes.

    In Wichita, Kan., 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 on the enhanced Fujita scale, with winds of 110 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

    Sedgwick County Emergency Management Director Randy Duncan said there were no reports of fatalities or injuries in Kansas.

    There were also two reports of tornadoes touching down in Iowa on Sunday night, including one near Huxley, about 20 miles north of Des Moines, and one in Grundy County, which is northeast of Des Moines, according to the Des Moines Register. There were no immediate reports of major damage or injuries.

    In Oklahoma, aerial television news footage showed homes with significant damage northeast of Oklahoma City. Some outbuildings appeared to have been leveled, and some homes' roofs or walls had been knocked down.

    "When I first drove into the neighborhood, I didn't see any major damage until I pulled into the front of my house," said Csaba Mathe, of Edmond, who found a part of his neighbor's fence in his swimming pool. "My reaction was: I hope insurance pays for the cleaning."

    "I typically have two trash cans, and now I have five in my driveway."

    The Storm Prediction Center had been warning about severe weather in the region since Wednesday, and on Friday, it zeroed in on Sunday as the day the storm system would likely pass through.

    "They've been calling for this all day," Edmond resident Anita Wright said after riding out the twister in an underground shelter. She and her husband, Ed, emerged from their hiding place to find uprooted trees, downed limbs and damaged gutters in their home.

    In Katie Leathers' backyard, the family's trampoline was tossed through a section of fence and a giant tree uprooted.

    "I saw all the trees waving, and that's when I grabbed everyone and got into two closets," Leathers said. "All these trees just snapped."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Tornadoes Wreak Havoc in Oklahoma and Beyond

     

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    Updated Monday, May 20, 11:56 a.m.
    Tornadoes, Massive Storms Devastate Heartland
    SHAWNEE, Oklahoma (AP) - Several tornadoes ravaged parts of the American heartland, reducing portions of a mobile home park to rubble and killing two elderly men.

    The storms concentrated damage Wichita, Kansas, and in Oklahoma. The National Weather Service was forecasting more of the same for the area - including Oklahoma City and Tulsa - Monday afternoon and evening, warning of the possibility of tornadoes and baseball-sized hail.

    The worst of the damage Sunday appeared to be at a mobile home park located near Shawnee among gently rolling hills, southeast of Oklahoma City.

    PHOTOS: Tornadoes Wreak Havoc in Oklahoma

    "It took a dead hit," resident James Hoke said. Emerging from a storm cellar where he sought refuge with his wife and two children, Hoke found that their mobile home had vanished. "Everything is gone."

    Oklahoma's state medical examiner's office spokeswoman Amy Elliot on Monday identified the two people who were confirmed dead as 79-year-old Glen Irish and 76-year-old Billy Hutchinson.

    Both men were from Shawnee, near where a tornado leveled the Steelman Estates Mobile Home Park. It wasn't immediately clear if both victims lived at the mobile home park.

    Forecasters had been warning of bad weather since Wednesday and on Sunday said conditions had ripened for powerful tornadoes. Wall-to-wall broadcasts of storm information spread the word Sunday, leaving Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth grateful.

    "There was a possibility a lot more people could have been injured," Booth said.

    Tornadoes were reported Sunday in Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma as part of a storm system that stretched from Texas to Minnesota.

    Emergency officials traversed the neighborhoods struck in Oklahoma in an effort to account for everyone. Keli Cain, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, said that, many times in such situations, people who are not found immediately are discovered later to have left the area ahead of the storm.

    A storm spotter told the National Weather Service that the tornado left the earth "scoured" at the mobile home park. At the nearby intersection of Interstate 40 and U.S. 177, a half-dozen big trucks were blown over, closing both highways for a time.

    SEE ON SKYE: Stunning Video of Tornados Churning Through Okla.

    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.

    In Wichita, Kansas, a tornado touched down near Mid-Continent Airport on the city's southwest side shortly before 4 p.m. local time, 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 (177 kph), according to the weather service.

    Golf-ball-sized hail slammed homes in the area.

    In Oklahoma, aerial television news footage showed homes with significant damage northeast of Oklahoma City. Some outbuildings appeared to have been leveled, and some homes' roofs or walls had been knocked down.

    In Katie Leathers' backyard in Edmond, the family's trampoline was tossed through a section of fence and a giant tree uprooted.

    "I saw all the trees waving, and that's when I grabbed everyone and got into two closets," Leathers said. "All these trees just snapped."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Tornadoes Wreak Havoc in Oklahoma and Beyond

     

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    Marlena Hodson walks out of her home as her grandsons, Campbell Miller, 10, and Dillon Miller, 13, at right, help her sort through belongings after a tornado damaged her home in Carney, Okla., on Sunday, May 19, 2013. (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Bryan Terry)

    Severe storms may erupt from Oklahoma to Minnesota on Monday as the storm system that spawned several tornadoes across the Plains on Saturday and Sunday shifts slowly to the east.

    Oklahoma City, Tulsa, St. Louis, Cedar Rapids and Minneapolis are among the cities at risk for severe weather.

    Damaging winds greater than 60 mph, large hail and tornadoes are possible with the strongest thunderstorms that develop.

    The greatest risk for tornadoes is expected from north of Dallas, Texas and Oklahoma to central Missouri, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Brian Edwards.

    The most violent storms will ignite during the afternoon and evening hours as daytime heating causes instability. Plenty of humid air will be in place to fuel the severe storms.

    RELATED:
    AccuWeather Severe Weather Center
    US Interactive Radar
    Photos: Tornadoes Lash the Plains


    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Tornadoes Wreak Havoc in Oklahoma and Beyond

     

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    Storm chasers Brandon Sullivan and Brett Wright documented a number of the violent and massive tornadoes that swept across central Oklahoma on Sunday. The dramatic footage of the twisters churning toward the men as strong winds whipped around them was shot just west of Shawnee, Okla., near where one man was killed, and at least 21 people were injured.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Tornadoes Wreak Havoc in Oklahoma and Beyond

     

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    Bees gather at the entrance of a hive during a scientific experiment at the Faculty of Agriculture at Zagreb University on May 15, 2013. Croatian researches, working on a unique method to find unexploded mines that are littering their country and the rest of the Balkans, are confident they can use bees for detecting land mines. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

    ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) - Mirjana Filipovic is still haunted by the land mine blast that killed her boyfriend and blew off her left leg while on a fishing trip nearly a decade ago. It happened in a field that was supposedly de-mined.

    Now, unlikely heroes may be coming to the rescue to prevent similar tragedies: sugar-craving honeybees. Croatian researchers are training them to find unexploded mines littering their country and the rest of the Balkans.

    When Croatia joins the European Union on July 1, in addition to the beauty of its aquamarine Adriatic sea, deep blue mountain lakes and lush green forests, it will also bring numerous un-cleared minefields to the bloc's territory. About 750 square kilometers (466 square miles) are still suspected to be filled with mines from the Balkan wars in the 1990s.

    Nikola Kezic, an expert on the behavior of honeybees, sat quietly together with a group of young researchers on a recent day in a large net tent filled with the buzzing insects on a grass field lined with acacia trees. The professor at Zagreb University outlined the idea for the experiment: Bees have a perfect sense of smell that can quickly detect the scent of the explosives. They are being trained to identify their food with the scent of TNT.

    "Our basic conclusion is that the bees can clearly detect this target, and we are very satisfied," said Kezic, who leads a part of a larger multimillion-euro program, called "Tiramisu," sponsored by the EU to detect land mines on the continent.

    Several feeding points were set up on the ground around the tent, but only a few have TNT particles in them. The method of training the bees by authenticating the scent of explosives with the food they eat appears to work: Bees gather mainly at the pots containing a sugar solution mixed with TNT, and not the ones that have a different smell.

    Kezic said the feeding points containing the TNT traces offer "a sugar solution as a reward, so they can find the food in the middle."

    "It is not a problem for a bee to learn the smell of an explosive, which it can then search," Kezic said. "You can train a bee, but training their colony of thousands becomes a problem."

    Croatian officials estimate that since the beginning of the Balkan wars in 1991, about 2,500 people have died from land mine explosions. During the four-year war, around 90,000 land mines were placed across the entire country, mostly at random and without any plan or existing maps.

    Dijana Plestina, the head of the Croatian government's de-mining bureau, said the suspected devices represent a large obstacle for the country's population and industry, including agriculture and tourism. In the nearly two decades since the end of the war, land mines have taken the lives of 316 people, including 66 de-miners, she said.

    "While this exists, we are living in a kind of terror, at least for the people who are living in areas suspected to have mines," she said. "And of course, that is unacceptable. We will not be a country in peace until this problem is solved."

    In 2004, Filipovic and her boyfriend were on a fishing trip that took them to a river between Croatia and Bosnia.

    "As we were returning hand-in-hand, my boyfriend stepped on a mine," the 41-year-old Filipovic said. "It was an awful, deafening explosion ... Thousands of shrapnel parts went flying, hundreds ending up in my body. He was found dead several meters away, while I remained in a pool of blood sitting on the ground."

    She sued the Croatian government, saying the area wasn't clearly marked as a former minefield.

    "At first I thought I was asleep," she recalled. "Then I heard the voice of my father. I opened my eyes, and saw nothing. I thought I lost my eyes."

    The government admitted guilt in the case for failing to keep the minefield sign, but the court has yet to determine financial compensation.

    It may be a while before the honeybees hit real minefields, Kezic said. First, they will conduct controlled tests, with real mines but which are marked.

    Kezic said American researchers have in the past experimented with mine-searching bees, but TNT - the most common explosive used in the Balkan wars - wasn't part of their experiment because its smell evaporates quickly, and only small traces remain after time. Rats and dogs are also used to detect explosives worldwide, but unlike bees, they could set off blasts on the minefields because of their weight.

    Even after the de-miners have done their job in an area, some land mines are missed and remain in the soil, and they are most often the cause of deadly explosions. Once the experiment with bees proves scientifically reliable, the idea is to use them in the areas that have already been de-mined, where their movement would be followed with heat-seeking cameras, Kezic said.

    "We are not saying that we will discover all the mines on a minefield, but the fact is that it should be checked if a minefield is really de-mined," he said. "It has been scientifically proven that there are never zero mines on a de-mined field, and that's where bees could come in."

    RELATED ON SKYE: The World's Freakiest Bugs
    Brazilian Wandering Spider

     

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    Monday, May 20, 2013

    Severe storms are erupting from Texas to Minnesota on Monday spawning large hail, strong winds and dangerous tornadoes.

    The storms are a continuation of the weekend's severe weather, as the system that unleashed over the Plains shifts eastward.

    Cities at risk Monday include Oklahoma City, Tulsa, St. Louis, Kansas City and Chicago.

    The greatest risk for tornadoes is expected from north of Dallas, Texas, and Oklahoma to central Missouri.

    For the full story, read 'Oklahoma to Minnesota: Severe Storm Outbreak Continues Monday.'

    Continue to check back throughout the evening for the latest updates.

    UPDATES:

    3:51 p.m. CDT Monday: Hail as large as 4.25 inches reported in Osage County, Okla.

    3:48 p.m. CDT Monday: While the tornado is no longer on the ground in Moore, Okla., storms in the area are still capable of producing tornadoes.

    3:47 p.m. CDT Monday: Cars piled up on top of I-35 behind the freeway in Moore, Okla.

    3:37 p.m. CDT Monday: Oklahoma City police report people trapped under debris at Weston Elementary School.

    3:26 p.m. CDT Monday: Police cannot get to Briarwood Elementary School due to all the debris on 149th Street in Santa Fe, Okla. Large gas leak at Elementary school on 149th street reported.

    3:22 p.m. CDT Monday: Oklahoma City Police: "Powerline down near Santa Fe, near the school. Headed there to check on people."

    3:22 p.m. CDT Monday:


    3:16 p.m. CDT Monday: Tornado reported northeast of Duncan, Okla., near Highway 29 just west of Bray, Okla. according to Oklahoma County Sheriff and Fire.

    2:53 p.m. CDT Monday: Police blocking off Indian Road, west of I-44 in Newcastle, due to tornado activity.

    2:53 p.m. CDT Monday: Law enforcement reporting a tornado on the ground in Moore between Norman and Oklahoma City.

    2:52 p.m. CDT Monday: A funnel cloud has been spotted between Norman and Oklahoma City.

    2:51 p.m. CDT Monday: A storm north of Newcastle, OK, south of Oklahoma City, is capable of producing a tornado. Click here for radar.

    2:49 p.m. CDT Monday: Golf ball-sized hail reported just north of Wichita Falls, Texas

    2:15 p.m. CDT Monday: Thunderstorms erupting to the southeast of Oklahoma City, Okla., are heading to the downtown are in the next half-hour.

    2:05 p.m. CDT Monday: Two severe thunderstorms south of Oklahoma City, Okla., are producing hail up to 1 inch in diameter.

    1:05 p.m. CDT Monday: AccuWeather meteorologists are closely watching southeastern Oklahoma as storms begin to fire and keeping a close eye on potential in Missouri. Click here to view the regional radar.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Tornadoes Wreak Havoc in Oklahoma and Beyond
    Oklahoma Tornado

     

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    The Weather Channel is streaming live coverage of Monday's tornado devastation in Moore, Okla.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Massive Tornado Devastation in Moore, Oklahoma
    Moore, Oklahoma, Tornadoes

     

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    A tornado moves past homes in Moore, Okla. on Monday, May 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

    NEW YORK (AP) - Monday's powerful tornado in suburban Oklahoma City loosely followed the path of a killer twister that slammed the region in May 1999.

    The National Weather Service estimated that the storm that struck Moore, Oklahoma, on Monday had wind speeds of up to 200 mph (320 kph), and was at least a half-mile (800 meters) wide. The 1999 storm had winds clocked at 300 mph (480 kph), according to the weather service website, and it destroyed or damaged more than 8,000 homes, killing at least two people.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Dozens Killed in Oklahoma Tornado; Death Toll to Rise

    Kelsey Angle, a weather service meteorologist in Kansas City, Missouri, said it's unusual for two such powerful tornadoes to track roughly the same path. The 1999 twister was part of a two-day outbreak sweeping mostly across central Oklahoma - similar to the past two days.

    The weather service has tentatively classified the Moore twister's wind speeds as an EF4 on a 5-point scale. Angle said less than 1 percent of all tornadoes reach EF4 or EF5.

    The thunderstorm developed in an area where warm moist air rose into cooler air. Winds in the area caused the storm to rotate, and that rotation promoted the development of a tornado. The most destructive and deadly tornadoes develop from rotating thunderstorms.

    VIDEO ON SKYE: Watch: Heartbreaking Video of Tornado Destruction in Oklahoma

    The biggest known tornado was nearly 2 1/2 miles (4 kilometers) wide at its peak width, which the weather service describes as near the maximum size for a tornado. It struck Hallam, Nebraska, in May 2004.

    The deadliest tornado, which struck March 18, 1925, killed 695 people in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.

    Deaths from twisters have been declining in recent years because of improved forecasts and increased awareness by people living in tornado-prone areas, especially in smaller and rural communities.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Massive Tornado Devastation in Moore, Oklahoma
    Moore, Oklahoma, Tornadoes

     

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    This aerial photo shows the remains of houses in Moore, Okla., following a tornado Monday, May 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Steve Gooch)

    MOORE, Okla. (AP) - Tornado warnings have been issued across much of the Midwest, stretching from Oklahoma to Illinois, following a second deadly twister in as many days in the Oklahoma City area.

    The National Weather Service issued tornado warnings Monday evening for several counties in southeastern Oklahoma and north and western Arkansas, along with parts of southern and central Missouri and a small slice of western Illinois.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Dozens Killed in Oklahoma Tornado; Death Toll to Rise

    The warnings are in effect into early morning Tuesday, with multiple tornadoespossible.

    The warnings were issued after a massive tornado tore through parts of suburban Oklahoma City, flattening entire neighborhoods with winds up to 200 mph and landing a direct blow on an elementary school in Moore.

    The Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office says dozens were killed, with the death toll expected to rise.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Massive Tornado Devastation in Moore, Oklahoma
    Moore, Oklahoma, Tornadoes

     

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    Updated Tuesday, May 21, 10:08 p.m. ET
    Top Headlines: Tornado Devastates Oklahoma Suburb
    MOORE, Oklahoma (AP) - Rescue workers neared the end of the search for survivors and the dead in the Oklahoma City suburb where a mammoth tornado destroyed countless homes, cleared lots down to bare red earth and claimed 24 lives, including those of nine children.

    Scientists concluded the storm was a rare and extraordinarily powerful type of twister known as an EF5, ranking it at the top of the enhanced Fujita scale used to measure tornado strength. Those twisters are capable of lifting reinforced buildings off the ground, hurling cars like missiles and stripping trees completely free of bark.

    After nearly 24 hours of searching, Moore's fire chief said he was confident there were no more bodies or survivors in the rubble.

    "I'm 98 percent sure we're good," Gary Bird said Tuesday at a news conference with the governor, who had just completed an aerial tour of the disaster zone.

    SEE ON SKYE: Photos of the Devastation

    Authorities were so focused on the search effort that they had yet to establish the full scope of damage along the storm's long, ruinous path.

    They did not know how many homes were gone or how many families had been displaced. Emergency crews had trouble navigating devastated neighborhoods because there were no street signs left. Some rescuers used smartphones or GPS devices to guide them through areas with no recognizable landmarks.

    The death toll was revised downward from 51 after the state medical examiner said some victims may have been counted twice in the confusion. More than 200 people were treated at area hospitals.

    By Tuesday afternoon, every damaged home in Moore had been searched at least once, Bird said. His goal was to conduct three searches of each building just to be certain there were no more bodies or survivors.

    The fire chief was hopeful that could be completed before nightfall but efforts were being hampered by heavy rain.

    Crews also continued a brick-by-brick search of the rubble of a school that was blown apart with many children inside.

    No additional survivors or bodies have been found since Monday night, Bird said.

    Survivors emerged with harrowing accounts of the storm's wrath, which many endured as they shielded loved ones.

    WATCH LIVE: Weather Channel Coverage of Tornado Devastation

    Chelsie McCumber grabbed her 2-year-old son, Ethan, wrapped him in jackets and covered him with a mattress before they squeezed into a coat closet of their house. McCumber sang to her child when he complained it was getting hot inside the small space.

    "I told him we're going to play tent in the closet," she said, beginning to cry.

    "I just felt air so I knew the roof was gone," she said Tuesday, standing under the sky where her roof should have been. The home was littered with wet gray insulation and all of their belongings.

    "Time just kind of stood still" in the closet, she recalled. "I was kind of holding my breath thinking this isn't the worst of it. I didn't think that was it. I kept waiting for it to get worse."

    "When I got out, it was worse than I thought," she said.

    Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin lamented the loss of life, especially of the nine children killed, but she celebrated the town's resilience.

    "We will rebuild, and we will regain our strength," Fallin said.

    From the air, large stretches of the town could be seen where every home had been cut to pieces. Some homes were sucked off their concrete slabs. A pond was filled with piles of wood and an overturned trailer.

    Also visible were large patches of red earth where the tornado scoured the land down to the soil. Some tree trunks were still standing, but the winds ripped away their leaves, limbs and bark.

    VIDEO ON SKYE: Watch: Heartbreaking Video of Tornado Destruction in Oklahoma

    Oklahoma TornadoesIn revising its estimate of the storm's power, the National Weather Service said the tornado, which was on the ground for 40 minutes, was a top-of-the-scale EF5 twister with winds of at least 200 mph (320 kph).

    The agency upgraded the tornado from an EF4 based on reports from a damage-assessment team, said spokeswoman Keli Pirtle. Monday's twister was at least a half-mile (nearly a kilometer) wide, and it was the first EF5 tornado of 2013.

    Other search-and-rescue teams focused their efforts at Plaza Towers Elementary School, where the storm ripped off the roof, knocked down walls and destroyed the playground as students and teachers huddled in hallways and bathrooms.

    Seven of the nine dead children were killed at the school, but several students were pulled alive from under a collapsed wall and other heaps of mangled debris. Rescue workers passed the survivors down a human chain of parents and neighborhood volunteers. Parents carried children in their arms to a triage center in the parking lot. Some students looked dazed, others terrified.

    Plaza Towers and another school in Oklahoma City that was not as severely damaged did not have reinforced storm shelters, or safe rooms, said Albert Ashwood, director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.

    More than 100 schools across the state do have safe rooms, he said. He added that a shelter would not necessarily have saved more lives at Plaza Towers.

    Officials were still trying to account for a handful of children not found at the school who may have gone home early with their parents, Bird said Tuesday.

    President Barack Obama pledged to provide federal help and mourned the death of young children who were killed while "trying to take shelter in the safest place they knew - their school."

    Moore has been one of the fastest-growing suburbs of Oklahoma City, attracting middle-income families and young couples looking for stable schools and affordable housing. Many residents commute to jobs in Oklahoma City or to nearby Tinker Air Force Base.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Massive Tornado Devastation in Moore, Oklahoma
    Moore, Oklahoma, Tornadoes

     

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    Volunteers help clean out Jean McAdams' mobile home after it was overturned by a tornado on May 20, 2013, near Shawnee, Oklahoma. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)

    NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - More severe weather is in the forecast for parts of the central United States already reeling from powerful tornadoes this week.

    The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., says golf ball-sized hail, powerful winds and isolated, strong tornadoes could strike areas of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma on Tuesday. The area at risk does not include Moore, Okla., where dozens of people were killed in a monstrous tornado Monday.

    WATCH LIVE: Weather Channel Coverage of Tornado Devastation

    Forecasters say the greatest risk for severe weather Tuesday includes the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The National Weather Service is predicting flash flooding in parts of Arkansas and Louisiana as the storm system dumps several inches of rain in a short time frame Tuesday afternoon.

    In Moore, where search and rescue operations continue, showers and thunderstorms are expected Tuesday with heavy rainfall.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Massive Tornado Devastation in Moore, Oklahoma
    Moore, Oklahoma, Tornadoes

     

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    How the Oklahoma Tornado Was Formed
    Dozens of people are feared dead and more than 140 injured after a huge tornado tore through Oklahoma City suburbs on Monday. BBC weather presenter Ben Rich explains how the tornado was formed. The formation occurs as warm air from the Gulf wafts north and is met by cold air from the Northwest. These colliding air masses cause strong thunderstorms and winds which can blow at different levels in the atmosphere, as well as blow in different directions, causing the storms to spin and ultimately form a tornado. According to Rich, there typically isn't much warning as to where a twister will hit until it forms.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Massive Tornado Devastation in Moore, Oklahoma
    Moore, Oklahoma, Tornadoes

     

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    Big Apple's Elite First Responders Head To OKC
    They have been all around the world, coming to the rescue of those in need. Now a group of New York's elite first responders, known as New York Task Force 1, are heading to a ravaged Oklahoma City to help those following massive tornadoes. Their special skills equipment and techniques allow them to work in dangerous conditions, seeking survivors and recovering those who perished.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Massive Tornado Devastation in Moore, Oklahoma
    Moore, Oklahoma, Tornadoes

     

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    A fourth-grader at Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla., which took a direct hit from Monday's tornado, describes the moment when the tornado struck the school and the aftermath. "It sounded like a train going by," recalled the boy, Damian Kline. After hearing warning sirens, students sought shelter in the school's hallways and bathroom. Damian described how his teacher, Rhonda Crosswhite, protected him and other students.

    "She was covering me and my friend Zachary," Damian said. "I told her we were fine because we were holding on to something, and then she went over to my friend Antonio and covered him, so she saved our lives."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Massive Tornado Devastation in Moore, Oklahoma
    Moore, Oklahoma, Tornadoes

     

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    President Barack Obama, accompanied by, from left, Vice President Joe Biden, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino, talks about the Oklahoma tornado and severe weather, Tuesday, May 21, 2013, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

    WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama pledged urgent government help for Oklahoma Tuesday in the wake of "one of the most destructive" storms in the nation's history.

    "In an instant neighborhoods were destroyed, dozens of people lost their lives, many more were injured," Obama said from the White House State Dining Room. "Among the victims were young children trying to take shelter in the safest place they knew - their school."

    SEE ON SKYE: Photos of the Devastation

    The president added that the town of Moore, Okla., "needs to get everything it needs right away."

    Obama spoke following a meeting with his disaster response team, including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and top White House officials. On Monday, he spoke with Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and Republican Rep. Tom Cole, whose home is in the heavily damaged town of Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City.

    The president has also declared a major disaster in Oklahoma, ordering federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts. Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Craig Fugate was due in Oklahoma later Tuesday to ensure that federal resources are being properly deployed.

    The state medical examiner's office has revised the death toll from the tornado to 24 people, including seven children. Authorities had said initially that as many as 51 people were dead, including 20 children.

    Teams are continuing to search the rubble in Moore, 10 miles south of Oklahoma City, after the Monday afternoon's more than half-mile-wide twister.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Massive Tornado Devastation in Moore, Oklahoma
    Moore, Oklahoma, Tornadoes

     

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