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SKYE on AOL

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    This stunning time-lapse video posted by NBC affiliate WMC-TV shows the path of the devastating tornado that ripped through Moore, Okla., on Monday. The tornado touched down at 2:56 p.m. ET, tore across more than 20 miles, and lasted 40 minutes. According to the National Weather Service, the tornado registered as an EF-4 on the enhanced Fujita scale - the second-most powerful type of twister. The video shows the twister's course as it churned across the landscape until it finally dissipated.

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

     

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    Amid all the devastating news emerging from Moore, Okla., following Monday's tornado comes this uplifting video. Barbara Garcia was describing her harrowing experience to a news crew when something began stirring in the rubble by her feet. Lying beneath the ruin -- alive -- was Garcia's dog.

    Click play to see her heartwarming reaction.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Devastating Tornado Strikes Moore, Okla.
    Tornado, Moore, Oklahoma

     

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    Nearly the same setup for tornadoes that focused on Oklahoma Monday is targeting north-central Texas Tuesday afternoon.

    According to AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark, "There is the potential for large and damaging tornadoes from parts of northern and central Texas Tuesday afternoon, spreading northeastward to Arkansas into Tuesday night."

    Dallas, Shreveport, Little Rock and Memphis are among the cities that lie within the area of greatest severe storm and tornado risk.

    People should stay alert for rapidly changing weather conditions and have a plan of action in place in case a violent storm affects their local area.

    Tornadoes, Texas, Arkansas

    RELATED:
    Dallas to Memphis at Greatest Risk for Tornadoes Tuesday
    AccuWeather Severe Weather Center
    Death Toll Climbs After Moore, Okla., Tornado


    UPDATES (All Reports listed in Central Time):

    8:30 p.m. CDT Tuesday: Thunderstorm winds brought down trees in Athens, La.

    7:55 p.m. CDT Tuesday: In El Dorado, Ariz., a large tree fell on a house and caused structural damage. No injuries were reported.

    7:25 p.m. CDT Tuesday: Trees are down along Highway 71 south, 7 miles southeast of Bossier City, La.

    6:45 p.m. CDT Tuesday: Power lines are down in Jacksonville, Texas along Highway 79.

    5:45 p.m. CDT Tuesday: Multiple trees are down in Nesbitt, Texas near Highway 154.

    5:42 p.m. CDT Tuesday: One inch hail was reported 3 miles north of Collierville, Tenn.

    5:07 p.m. CDT Tuesday: Numerous trees are down in De Kalb, Texas.

    4:45 p.m. CDT Tuesday: A tree is down on a home 5 miles west of Pittsburgh, Texas.

    4:24 p.m. CDT Tuesday: One inch hail was reported in Harker Heights, Texas.

    3:32 p.m. CDT Tuesday: Thunderstorm winds brought down trees 6 miles southwest of Huntsville, Tenn.

    3:30 p.m. CDT Tuesday: Trees and power lines are down at the Reno City Hall in Reno, Texas.

    2:59 p.m. CDT Tuesday: A large tree, brought down by thunderstorm winds, is blocking the road and caused a traffic accident in Allardt, Tenn.

    2:49 p.m. CDT Tuesday: A wind gust of 65 mph was reported in Princeton, Texas.

    2:43 p.m. CDT Tuesday: Winds are gusting to 69 mph in Garland, Texas, just northeast of Dallas. Further to the north, a wind gust of 68 mph was reported in McKinney, Texas. NWS reported trees down and some power outages.

    2:40 p.m. CDT Tuesday: Five miles northeast of Gainesboro, Tenn., a roof was blown off of a house on Sugar Creek Road.

    2:37 p.m. CDT Tuesday: Thunderstorm winds brought down trees at the intersection of Valley Creek and Fairway Vista in McKinney, Texas.

    2:24 p.m. CDT Tuesday: Thunderstorm winds downed trees 1 mile east of Cookeville, Tenn., near Dry Valley and Buck Mountain Roads.

    2:18 p.m. CDT Tuesday: Storms capable of producing tornadoes fired up north of New Boston, Texas and are moving northeast.

    2:15 p.m. CDT Tuesday: A 60-mph wind gust was reported in Grapevine, Texas, just northwest of Dallas. Severe weather will impact Dallas in the next 20 minutes.

    1:50 p.m. CDT Tuesday: A thunderstorm produced a 73-mph wind gust 3 miles west of Denton, Texas, at 1:38 p.m. CDT.

    1:30 p.m. CDT Tuesday: "The greatest chance of tornadoes lies south and east of Dallas the next few hours," AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark said. "Showers and thunderstorms approaching Dallas over the next few hours with strong, gusty winds and hail being the main threats."

    Tyler and Longview, Texas, and Texarkana, Ark., are among the cities and towns at risk.

    12:45 p.m. CDT Tuesday: AccuWeather.com meteorologists are watching an area from Ardmore, Okla., to west of Dallas, Texas, for violent storms to erupt. Please pay close attention to watches and warnings in this corridor.

    11:50 a.m. CDT Tuesday: While the main threat of tornadoes shifts south today, severe thunderstorms are still impacting Oklahoma. A storm with a long history of producing golf ball-sized hail is moving toward Oklahoma City. See radar image below:

    Tornado RADAR

    More storms are in store for recovery efforts in Moore, Okla. Details

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Devastating Tornado Strikes Moore, Okla.
    Moore, Oklahoma, Tornado

     

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    By Renny Vandewege, Meteorologist

    Workers dig through the rubble of Plaza Towers Elementary School after a tornado moved through Moore, Okla., on Monday, May 20, 2013. (AP Photo Sue Ogrocki)

    How can we prevent tornado disasters like the one in Moore, Okla.?

    The extent of devastation from Monday's tornado in Moore, Okla., is almost unimaginable. As photos and video of the aftermath flood the Internet and airwaves, questions inevitably arise about what went wrong.


    I'll get to that, but let me first say that plenty went right. The Storm Prediction Center issued a heightened risk of severe weather across Oklahoma five days before the big tornado hit Moore. A tornado watch was issued more than an hour and a half before the tornado struck. And a tornado warning was issued 16 minutes before the first twister dropped and 30 minutes before it hit Moore.

    As the tornado neared, TV meteorologists warned of the danger in Moore down to the street level. They mentioned businesses, schools and neighborhoods in the twister's path. News helicopters beamed back live footage of the wedge-shaped monster tearing up trees and buildings. The warning system worked. It undoubtedly saved hundreds or thousands of lives. But unfortunately, people died, including children in an elementary school, and each life taken away is one too many.

    This disaster hit close to home. My wife is a teacher at East Webster High School in Cumberland, Miss. On April 27, 2011, a tornado all but destroyed the school. Fortunately, it occurred in the middle of the night, so the classrooms were empty. What would have happened if the timing had been different?

    By all accounts, the administrators and teachers in the two Moore schools that were hit did everything they'd been taught to do when a tornado nears. They sought shelter for nearly 20 minutes before the tornado hit. They avoided large rooms such as gymnasiums and sought refuge in interior rooms, hallways and bathrooms. But in a tornado of this strength, even all that isn't always enough, and indeed, at Plaza Towers Elementary, at least seven children were killed. It's heartbreaking. More needs to be done to prevent lost lives.

    So what can be done?

    While it's nearly impossible to build structures that can withstand the most powerful tornadoes, we can build underground shelters, the safest place to survive a tornado. Every school in Tornado Alley should have one; so should businesses and homes. Yes, they cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to construct, but our children are worth it. Tornado-safe rooms above ground are another option.

    In 2000, following the Great Plains Tornado Outbreak of May 1999, Andrea Dawn Melvin of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey made a presentation on tornado safety in Moore schools. She reported that many of the designated shelter points in various schools were inadequate. Melvin didn't specifically address Briarwood Elementary or Plaza Towers Elementary, which were were struck Monday, and I don't know whether school officials addressed all of her concerns. But on Monday, Moore's city manager told ABC World News that underground tornado shelters were never built at those two schools. They've yet to be built in many Tornado Alley schools. They should be.

    Beyond building shelters, we shouldn't rely on sirens alone to warn people of an approaching tornado. We must continue to educate people on the importance of having a variety of ways to get warnings, be it via smartphone apps, text messages, TV and radio warnings, and other means. And we must provide clear and concise instructions on where to go and what to do when danger is present.

    Nobody is to blame for the disaster in Moore. The warning system worked well and many lives were saved. But we must learn from this and build more shelters and tornado-safe rooms in tornado-prone areas.

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

     

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    By Sue Ogrocki, Associated Press

    A woman carries a child through a field near the collapsed Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013. (AP Photo Sue Ogrocki)

    Editor's Note: Oklahoma City-based AP photographer Sue Ogrocki was at the elementary school destroyed by a tornado and saw rescuers pulling children out of the rubble. This is her account of what she witnessed.

    MOORE, Okla. (AP) - I left the office in Oklahoma City as soon as I saw the tornado warnings on TV. I had photographed about a dozen twisters in the past decade, and knew that if I didn't get in my car before the funnel cloud hit, it would be too late.

    By the time I reached Moore, all I could see was destruction. I walked toward a group of people standing by a heaping mound of rubble too big to be a home. There were a lot of kids lined up on the sidewalk. A woman told me it had been a school.

    I expected chaos as I approached the piles of bricks and twisted metal where Plaza Towers Elementary once stood. Instead, it was calm and orderly as police and firefighters pulled children out one by one from beneath a large chunk of a collapsed wall.

    Parents and neighborhood volunteers stood in a line and passed the rescued children from one set of arms to another, carrying them out of harm's way. Adults carried the children through a field littered with shredded pieces of wood, cinder block and insulation to a triage center in a parking lot.

    They worked quickly and quietly so rescuers could try to hear voices of children trapped beneath the rubble.

    Crews lifted one boy from under the wall and were about to pass him along the human chain, but his dad was there. As the boy called out for him, they were reunited.

    In the 30 minutes that I was outside the destroyed school, I photographed about a dozen children pulled from the rubble.

    I focused my lens on each one of them. Some looked dazed. Some cried. Others seemed terrified.

    But they were alive.

    I know that some students were among those who died in the tornado, but for a moment, there was hope in the devastation.

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

     

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    An aerial view shows Briarwood Elementary with vehicles thrown about after Monday's tornado, Tuesday, May 21, 2013, in Moore, Okla. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

    MOORE, Okla. (AP) - 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.

    Albert Ashwood is director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. He told reporters Tuesday it's up to each jurisdiction to set priorities for which schools get limited funding for safe rooms.

    ASK SKYE: How Can We Prevent Tornado Disasters Like Moore, Okla.?

    Ashwood says a shelter would not necessarily have saved more lives at the Plaza Towers Elementary School, where seven children sheltering in above-ground classrooms were killed. He says no disaster mitigation measure is absolute.

    He says authorities are going to review which schools have safe rooms and try to get them in more schools across the state.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Devastating Tornado Strikes Moore, Okla.
    Moore, Oklahoma, Tornado

     

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    Jason Leger filmed the massive tornado as it barreled toward his Oklahoma home before he and his family took cover in what he called a cellar. In the second video below, he begins filming again as he emerges from the shelter, and sees a very different scene.

    Before:


    After:


    (via BuzzFeed)

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Devastating Tornado Strikes Moore, Okla.
    Moore, Oklahoma, Tornado

     

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    Briarwood Elementary P.E. teacher Mike Murphy comforts Aiden Stuck, 7, as he waits for his mother at the school after a tornado destroyed Briarwood Elementary and struck south Oklahoma City and Moore, Okla., Monday, May 20, 2013.(AP Photo/ The Oklahoman, Nate Billings)

    MOORE, Okla. (AP) - The principal's voice came on over the intercom at Plaza Towers Elementary School: A severe storm was approaching and students were to go to the cafeteria and wait for their parents to pick them up.


    But before all of the youngsters could get there, the tornado alarm sounded.

    The plan changed quickly.

    "All the teachers started screaming into the room and saying, 'Get into the hallway! We don't want you to die!' and stuff like that," said sixth-grader Phaedra Dunn. "We just took off running."

    In the moments that followed, some of the children at Plaza Towers Elementary would, in fact, die. At least seven were killed by the twister Monday afternoon. Others would crawl out of the rubble, bloodied and bruised, utterly terrified.

    The tornado that devastated this Oklahoma City suburb of 56,000 people destroyed Plaza Towers and also slammed Briarwood Elementary, where all the children appear to have survived. Students and parents recounted stories Tuesday of brave teachers who sheltered their pupils, in some cases by herding them into a closet and a restroom amid the panic.

    After the tornado alarm went off, students at Plaza Towers scrambled into the halls. But the halls - some of which were within the view of windows - did not appear safe enough.

    Sixth-grader Antonio Clark said a teacher took him and as many other youngsters as possible and shoved them into the three-stall boys' bathroom.

    "We were all piled in on each other," the 12-year-old said. Another teacher wrapped her arms around two students and held Antonio's hand.

    Twenty seconds later he heard a roar that sounded like a stampede of elephants. His ears popped.

    Then it all stopped almost as suddenly as it started. Crouched down, his backpack over his head, Antonio looked up. The skylight and the ceiling were gone, and he was staring up into a cloud filled with debris.

    Antonio and a friend were among the first to stand up. They climbed over debris where their classroom had been just moments earlier. Students and teachers were struggling to free themselves from under the bricks, wooden beams and insulation. Some people had bleeding head wounds; blood covered one side of someone's eyeglasses, Antonio said.

    "Everybody was crying," Antonio said. "I was crying because I didn't know if my family was OK."

    Then Antonio saw his father ride up on a mountain bike, yelling his son's name.

    Phaedra survived, too. Her mother rushed to the school just moments before the tornado hit, covered Phaedra's head with a blanket to protect her from hail and ushered her out the door. Phaedra's 10-year-old sister, Jenna, didn't want to budge from the school.

    The principal "grabbed her backpack, put it over her head and literally said, 'You're mom's going to open the door. Get out. You're safer with your mom,' and pushed her out the door," said Amy Sharp, the girls' mother.

    At Briarwood Elementary, the students also went into the halls. But a third-grade teacher didn't think it looked safe, so she herded some of the children into a closet, said David Wheeler, one of the fathers who tried to rush to the school after the tornado hit.

    The teacher shielded Wheeler's 8-year-old son, Gabriel, with her arms and held him down as the tornadocollapsed the school roof and starting lifting students upward with a pull so strong that it literally sucked glasses off kids' faces, Wheeler said.

    "She saved their lives by putting them in a closet and holding their heads down," Wheeler said.

    Gabriel and the teacher - whom Wheeler identified as Julie Simon - had to dig their way out of the rubble. The boy's back was cut and bruised and gravel was embedded in his head, Wheeler said. It took nearly three hours for father and son to be reunited.

    Other parents waited even longer, as they drove from one emergency shelter to another in search of their children.

    At St. Andrews United Methodist Church, 15-year-old Caitlin Ulrey waited about seven hours before her parents found her. Her high school had not been hit by the tornado. But her nerves were frayed.

    "I was starting to panic and shake and have an anxiety attack," Caitlin said.

    At Plaza Towers, 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 dazed and terrified children in their arms to a triage center in the parking lot.

    Hundreds of Oklahoma schools have reinforced tornado shelters, but not the two that were hit on Monday.

    Albert Ashwood, director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, said it is up to each jurisdiction to set priorities for which schools get funding for safe rooms. But he said a shelter would not necessarily have saved more lives at Plaza Towers. The tornado was an EF5 twister, the most powerful type, with winds of at least 200 mph.

    "When you talk about any kind of safety measures ... it's a mitigating measure, it's not an absolute," Ashwood said. "There's not a guarantee that everyone will be totally safe."

    Moore School Superintendent Susan Pierce said teachers and administrators put their well-rehearsed crisis plan into action as the tornado approached. But she suggested there are limits to what people can do in the face of such a powerful storm.

    "Safety is our main priority," Pierce said. "We monitored the weather throughout the day and when it was time to shelter, we did just that."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Devastating Tornado Strikes Moore, Okla.
    Moore, Oklahoma, Tornado

     

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    An aerial view of an entire neighborhood destroyed by Monday's tornado is shown Tuesday, May 21, 2013, in Moore, Okla. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

    WASHINGTON (AP) - Wind, humidity and rainfall combined precisely to create Monday's massive killer tornado in Oklahoma. The awesome amount of energy released dwarfed the power of the atomic bomb that leveled Hiroshima.

    On Tuesday afternoon, the National Weather Service gave the tornado the top-of-the-scale rating of EF-5 for wind speed and breadth and severity of damage. Wind speeds were estimated at between 200 mph and 210 mph.

    SEE ON SKYE: Photos of the Devastation

    Several meteorologists contacted by The Associated Press used real-time measurements to calculate the energy released during the storm's life span of almost an hour. Their estimates ranged from 8 times to more than 600 times the power of the Hiroshima bomb, with more experts at the high end.

    The tornado at some points was 1.3 miles wide, and its path went on for 17 miles and 40 minutes. That's long for a regular tornado but not too unusual for such a violent one, said research meteorologist Harold Brooks at the National Severe Storms Laboratory.

    Less than 1 percent of all U .S. tornadoes are this violent - only about 10 a year, he said.

    With the third strong storm hitting the suburb of Moore in 14 years, some people are wondering why. It's a combination of geography, meteorology and lots of bad luck, experts said.

    If you look at the climate history of tornadoes in May, you will see they cluster in a spot - maybe 100 miles wide - in central Oklahoma "and there's good reason for it," said Adam Houston, meteorology professor at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. That's the spot where the weather conditions of warm, moist air and strong wind shear needed for tornadoes combine in just the right balance.

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

    Several meteorologists also offered this explanation for why the suburb seemed to be hit repeatedly by violent tornadoes: "bad luck."

    Scientists know the key ingredients that go into a devastating tornado. But they are struggling to figure out why they develop in some big storms and not others.

    They also are still trying to determine what effects, if any, global warming has on tornadoes.

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

     

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    A man who asked not to be identified hangs an American flag on what is left of a tree in a neighborhood north of SW 149th between Western and Santa Fe on Tuesday, May 21, 2013, after a tornado struck south Oklahoma City and Moore, Okla., on Monday. (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Nate Billing)

    WASHINGTON (AP) - The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency says U.S. officials are "going neighborhood to neighborhood" to make sure Oklahoma gets the help it needs.

    FEMA's Craig Fugate promises in an interview that officials won't desert Oklahoma, saying, "We don't leave here when the cameras leave. We stay here and get the job done." Fugate tells CNN that the agency has enough money to assist the people of Moore, Okla., who were caught in the path of destruction as the nearly 1.3-mile-wide twister struck Monday afternoon. He says officials will work aggressively to help people find temporary housing and says FEMA is working with other officials to get services restored.

    The emergency management director arrived in the state Tuesday, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is due there Wednesday.

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

     

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    Shown is the storm shelter that Gary and Ferrell Mitchusson used to ride out a massive tornado on May 21, 2013, in Moore, Okla. Their home was completely destroyed in the massive tornado. (Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

    In 2011, the most active month for tornadoes on record resulted in 321 deaths in the United States. The death and destruction continue this year with multiple devastating outbreaks in the past few weeks alone. Now, people are looking to protect themselves, and their families, by building their own storm shelters.

    Homes without storm cellars or basements offer little protection from a tornado. While windowless rooms and closets offer more safety than other parts of the house, people are still left vulnerable to tragedy when storms strong enough to level entire structures come through. Storm shelters are built to withstand winds that standard household rooms are not equipped to handle. There have been cases of safe rooms remaining completely intact, protecting the people inside, as the entire building around it crumbles to the ground in a tornado. As people try to prepare for the worst, companies that produce do-it-yourself storm and tornado shelters are reporting a sharp increase in sales.

    Storm shelters can come in a variety of styles. Small safe rooms with thick steel walls may be placed in a garage and bolted to the cement floor. Safe rooms may also be constructed of concrete or built outside of the house. Holes can be dug in the garage floor, and a small shelter inserted several feet below the surface for people to hurry into if a storm approaches. They can also be built into the ground outside, like a bunker or bomb shelter. Though unlike typical bomb shelters, storm shelters are not built to sustain people for long periods of time. Rather, they just offer protection for the duration of a passing tornado.

    RELATED:
    Moore Tornado Makeup: Nature's Fury
    PHOTOS, VIDEOS: Devastation of Moore Tornado


    Storm shelters can be included during the construction of new homes. Existing homes that have no safe place from storms can have the shelters added by professionals, or they can be completed by the homeowners using kits sold by companies that specialize in do-it-yourself safe rooms. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has instructions online "based on extensive research of the causes and effects of windstorm damage to buildings" that can walk people through the process of building storm shelters on their own. FEMA also has programs in place to help offset the costs of storm shelters to make them more accessible to home owners.

    A storm shelter is only effective if installed properly. When building a shelter or safe room on your own or with a kit, it is essential that all instructions are followed exactly. This includes not skipping steps or substituting materials. If people are unsure of their own abilities to build the shelters, they should hire a professional instead.

    If you do not have a basement or storm cellar and cannot acquire a storm shelter or safe room, there are other important safety tips to follow when a storm is coming your way. Get to the lowest possible level of the building you are in, and avoid being near any windows. Closets and bathtubs are usually the safest areas. If there is a storm shelter in your town and a tornado has already been seen on the ground, do not leave your home. Getting caught in a tornado on your way to another shelter is incredibly dangerous. You are safer in your home than in your car.

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

     

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    Updated Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 7 p.m. ET

    An aerial view of destroyed houses and buildings after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 21, 2013, in Moore, Oklahoma. (Photo by Benjamin Krain/Getty Images)


    MOORE, Okla. (AP) - The tornado that struck an Oklahoma City suburb this week may have created $2 billion or more in damage as it tore through as many as 13,000 homes, multiple schools and a hospital, officials said Wednesday as they gave the first detailed account of the devastation.

    At the same time, authorities released the identities of some of the 24 people, including 10 children, who perished. While anguish over the deaths was palpable as residents began picking up their shattered neighborhoods, many remained stunned that the twister didn't take a higher human toll during its 17 miles and 40 minutes on the ground.

    The physical destruction was staggering.

    "The tornado that we're talking about is the 1 or 2 percent tornado," Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management Director Albert Ashwood said of the twister, which measured a top-of-the-scale EF5 with winds of at least 200 mph. "This is the anomaly that flattens everything to the ground."

    SEE ON SKYE: Photos of the Devastation
    As response teams transitioned into cleanup and recovery, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, who sent police and fire crews from his city to assist the effort, said an early assessment estimated damage costs at between $1.5 billion and $2 billion.

    The Oklahoma Insurance Department, meanwhile, said visual assessments of the extensive damage zone suggest the cost could be greater than the $2 billion from the 2011 tornado that struck Joplin, Mo., and killed nearly seven times as many people.

    Though there was little more than 10 minutes warning that a tornado was on the ground Monday and headed for Moore, many in the area are accustomed to severe storms. The community of 56,000 people has been hit by four tornados since 1998, and residents already were on alert after weekend storms and days of warnings. Because the tornado hit in the afternoon, many others were away from the neighborhoods and out of harm's way at work.

    Looking over the broken brick, smashed wood and scattered appliances that is all that remains of the home where Dawn Duffy-Relf's aunt lived with her two daughters, Duffy-Relf and her husband marveled at the devastation - and the survival rate.

    Duffy-Relf credited central Oklahoma residents' instincts and habits: they watch the weather reports, they look at the sky, they know what they can and can't outrun.

    "We know where we live," she said as she tried to salvage as much from the home as possible before her aunt returned from a vacation to Mexico.

    Her husband, Paul Duffy-Relf, also noted the rise of social media and cellphone use since the last massive storm smashed the town more than a decade ago. He said people posted on Facebook and Twitter ahead of Monday's storm, telling others where the tornado was and when to flee. And some never left their cellphones, staying on the line with loved ones as long as they could, and working to quickly reconnect with those who needed help afterward.

    "People are still looking for their wallets, but they have their cellphones," he said.

    Harold Brooks, research meteorologist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla., said long-range forecasting models also have dramatically improved and are able to provide insight even a week before a storm strikes.

    Brooks said people in the storm's direct path had time to pick out their safe place - even if it was their home's bathtub - when there was first word of a massive tornado bearing down on them.

    "If you take appropriate action, you go to your safe place, you can dramatically increase the probability you'll survive," he said.

    To Brooks, the Joplin tornado was the oddity in terms of lives lost. That tornado struck on a Sunday evening two years ago this week.

    "It's a number that I really don't understand what led to that," he said. "It could be the timing, 5:30 on a Sunday night, or bad luck. That was the outlier."

    While estimating that between 12,000 and 13,000 homes were affected by Monday's tornado, emergency officials said they were unable to estimate the number of people left homeless, in part because many had been taken in by relatives and only a couple dozen stayed overnight at Red Cross shelters.

    President Barack Obama plans to view the destruction firsthand on Sunday. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, meanwhile, visited Wednesday and again pledged the federal government's ongoing support. She urged people to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to learn about aid for which they may qualify.

    "We know that people are really hurting," she said. "There's a lot of recovery yet to do. ... We will be here to stay until this recovery is complete. You have our commitment on that."

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

     

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    May 22, 2013
    Costa Rica Volcano, Turrialba

    SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) - Scientists say one of Costa Rica's largest volcanos is spewing clouds of ash and gas, setting off a small-scale evacuation.

    Park rangers activated a green alert, the lowest of three levels, after the 10,958-foot (3,340-meter) Turrialba volcano rumbled loudly and emitted thick clouds of ash.

    Government seismologist Gino Gonzalez said Wednesday that the volcano appeared to be calming, but 20 people and their livestock had been moved from homes on the volcano's flanks.

    The volcano is 40 miles (65 kilometers) east of the capital, San Jose. It began a series of eruptions in 2007 and several nearby villages were evacuated in 2010 and 2012.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Breathtaking Volcanic Eruptions Seen from Space
    Volcanic Eruptions Seen from Space

     

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    An aerial view shows Plaza Towers Elementary School, which was destroyed in Monday's tornado, in Moore, Okla., on May 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

    MOORE, Okla. (AP) - With its single-story design and cinder-block walls, Plaza Towers Elementary School may have seemed sturdy when it was built a couple of generations ago. But a powerful tornado revealed the building's lack of modern safety standards, destroying the school and killing seven students.

    Unlike several other schools in the Oklahoma City area, Plaza Towers had no "safe room" in which students and teachers could seek protection from a twister.

    SEE ON SKYE: Photos of the Devastation
    The federal government offers money to schools in some states if they decide to install the reinforced rooms. But doing so can still be a daunting financial decision, requiring up to a $1 million for a single storm shelter that might never be needed. That dollars-and-cents reality has resulted in a patchwork of protection in tornado-prone areas - sometimes with tragic results.

    In response to the tornado that plowed through Moore, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin announced Wednesday the creation of a state fund to accept donations for the construction of safe rooms, which are fortified by deep foundations, thick concrete walls and steel doors designed to withstand winds of 250 mph.

    Separately, a member of the state House of Representatives proposed creating a $500 million bond issue to pay for storm shelters at public schools and in private homes across the state.

    "From the public, it's been a huge outcry," said state Rep. Joe Dorman, a Democrat from rural Rush Springs, about 60 miles southwest of Oklahoma City. "We need to do something to require storm shelters in schools, especially in the vulnerable areas where there have been tornado outbreaks."

    Oklahoma, which has averaged more than 50 tornadoes per year since record-keeping began in 1950, is in the heart of tornado alley. State officials asserted Wednesday that they had done more than their counterparts in any other state to encourage construction of community safe rooms and home storm shelters.

    More than 100 Oklahoma schools have already received federal grant money for safe rooms, said the head of the state's emergency management agency.

    Yet most schools still lack them. The reason: the cost, which can range from a few hundred thousand dollars to more than $1 million, depending on the size of the room. For some cash-strapped districts, that could equal the annual salary of nearly an entire school's teaching staff.

    Federal Emergency Management Agency grants distributed by states can cover 75 percent of the cost of safe rooms, but local schools still must come up with the rest. Some school districts have issued bonds, backed by tax revenues, to ease the burden. But even that has limits.

    The Choctaw-Nicoma Park School District, which teaches about 5,500 children northeast of Moore, recently used bond money to build safe rooms at five of its nine school buildings. Two additional schools are close enough to the improved buildings that students could run to the storm shelter with just a few minutes of warning. But two elementary schools are without modern safe rooms, said Superintendent Jim McCharen.

    "Certainly, when we are able to get some type of assistance or do another school bond issue, both of those schools are slated to get additional classrooms" that can double as safe rooms, McCharen said.

    In other places, school districts have built gymnasiums or music rooms that can serve as safe rooms during a storm.

    A massive tornado destroyed six schools and badly damaged four others on May 22, 2011, in Joplin, Mo., though none of the buildings was occupied because it was a Sunday.

    As Joplin began to rebuild, officials decided to put tornado shelters in all 13 of their schools, including those that were not destroyed. All of the shelters will double as gymnasiums. A 14th storm shelter being built at the football stadium will serve as a locker room. All are meant to protect students, staff and the public - remaining open 24 hours a day with space to house up to 15,000 people.

    Joplin Superintendent C.J. Huff said the above-ground shelters will be built with reinforced steel and specially treated concrete designed to withstand an EF5 tornado like the twisters that hit Joplin and Moore.

    Groundbreaking is set for this summer. Until the shelters are complete, students will be sent to interior rooms such as restrooms, windowless classrooms and closets - but not hallways, which Huff said can become "wind tunnels" for flying projectiles.

    The Joplin storm shelters are among 148 that Missouri has helped finance with $155 million of federal money since 2004, according to figures provided Wednesday by the Missouri Department of Public Safety.

    For former Kansas Treasurer Dennis McKinney, the images that emerged from Oklahoma this week recalled the devastating tornado that leveled his hometown of Greensburg in 2007. That twister killed 11 people and destroyed nearly every structure in the southwest Kansas community, including the elementary and high schools.

    The Greensburg district rebuilt one combined school and incorporated a FEMA-approved storm shelter in the locker rooms between gymnasiums.

    McKinney, who was minority leader in the state House at the time, pushed a budget provision in 2008 requiring all school districts to evaluate their safety measures. But it's not clear precisely how many took steps to improve facilities. However, nearly every school built in Kansas in the past 10 to 15 years included a safe room as part of the design, said Dale Dennis, deputy education commissioner in Kansas.

    McKinney said the Oklahoma tornado should prompt school officials everywhere to rethink the safety of their facilities, especially elementary schools.

    "There is no reason, with the technology and resources available, to have 10 or 20 kids killed by a tornado in a school," McKinney said. "If they are telling students to take shelter in a hallway, that tells you that it is not safe."

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

     

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    At sunrise Tuesday,May 21, 2013, an American flag blows in the wind atop the rubble of a destroyed home in Moore, Okla. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Oklahoma medical examiner's office says it has positively identified all 24 victims of Monday's tornado that ripped across the Oklahoma City area.

    The office announced Wednesday that 10 of those killed were children, including two infants.

    Among the dead are 4-month-old Case Futrell and 7-month-old Sydnee Vargyas. Both babies died from head injuries.

    The eight other children ranged in age from 4 years old to 9 years old. Of those, six were suffocated. The other two died from massive injuries. Seven of the children were pulled from the rubble of the Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore.

    The medical examiner's office says most of the adults died from multiple blunt-force injuries.

    The victims:

    - Terri Long, 49

    - Megan Futrell, 29

    - Case Futrell, 4 months

    - Shannon Quick, 40

    - Sydnee Vargyas, 7 months

    - Karrina Vargyas, 4

    - Jenny Neely, 38

    - Antonia Candelaria, 9

    - Kyle Davis, 8

    - JaNae Hornsby, 9

    - Sydney Angle, 9

    - Emily Conatzer, 9

    - Nicolas McCabe, 9

    - Christopher Legg, 9

    - Cindy Plumley, 45

    - Deanna Ward, 70

    - Rick Jones, 54

    - William Sass, 63

    - Gina Stromski, 51

    - Tewauna Robinson, 45

    - Randy Smith, 39

    - Leslie Johnson, 46

    - Hemant Bhonde, 65

    - Richard Brown, 41

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

     

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    Christine Jones (L) is comforted by her daughter as they stand in front of Christine's home which was destroyed when a tornado ripped through the area on May 22, 2013, in Moore, Oklahoma. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

    MOORE, Okla. (AP) - All that is left of Shayne Patteson's three-bedroom home is the tiny area where his wife hunkered down under a mattress to protect their three children when a tornado packing winds of at least 200 mph slammed through his neighborhood.

    Patteson vowed to rebuild, likely in the same place, but said next time he will have an underground storm shelter.

    "That is the first thing that will be going into the design of the house, is the storm shelter and the garage," he said as he looked around piles of bricks and plywood where their home once stood.

    SEE ON SKYE: Photos of the Devastation
    Patteson's home was among as many as 13,000 homes damaged or destroyed Monday when the twister plowed through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore. About 33,000 people were affected, officials said, though the number left homeless was still unknown because most of the displaced were believed to be staying with friends or relatives; only two dozen or so have stayed overnight at Red Cross shelters.

    Officials estimated the damage could top $2 billion.

    At the same time, more details emerged on the human toll, including heartbreaking stories about the final moments of some of the children who were among the 24 people killed. One elementary school was reduced to rubble when the tornado hit. Another was heavily damaged.

    While anguish over the deaths was palpable as residents began to pick up their shattered neighborhoods, many remained stunned that the twister didn't take a higher human toll during its 40 minutes on the ground.

    "The tornado that we're talking about is the 1 or 2 percent tornado," Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management Director Albert Ashwood said of the twister, which measured a top-of-the-scale EF5 with winds of at least 200 mph. "This is the anomaly that flattens everything to the ground."

    The medical examiner reported that six of the children who died at the Plaza Towers Elementary School suffocated after being buried under a mass of bricks, steel and other materials as the building collapsed. A seventh child who perished there, 8-year-old Kyle Davis, was killed instantly by an object - perhaps a large piece of stone or a beam - that fell on the back of his neck.

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

    The first of the funerals is to take place Thursday morning, for 9-year-old Antonia Candelaria, who also died at the school.

    With all of the missing now accounted for, response teams transitioned into cleanup and recovery, and authorities formally allowed residents back into the damage zone Wednesday to start the monumental task of rebuilding their lives.

    Moore Mayor Glenn Lewis said Wednesday he would propose an ordinance in the next couple of days to require all new homes to have storm shelters.

    The city already has some. After a massive tornado tore a near-identical path in 1999, city authorities provided incentives such as federal grant dollars to help residents cover the costs of safe rooms. This time, though, Lewis thinks it is necessary to compel people to include them in all new construction.

    SEE ON SKYE: Watch: Incredible Time-Lapse Video of Oklahoma Tornado

    The scale of the destruction is also bound to lead to higher insurance premiums for homeowners, said Dan Ramsey, president of the Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma.

    "Three years of hail bombardments of apocalyptic proportions, and then this? It has to result in some give someplace," Ramsey said.

    Residents clearing massive piles of debris were trying to get hold of essentials such as mobile phones and prescription drugs lost in the destruction. Cellular service providers set up mobile retail outlets and charging stations. At least one was offering free phone calls and loaner phones.

    Insurance companies have also set up emergency operation centers to take calls from people trying to get prescriptions filled and handle other health care needs.

    Elsewhere in town, several hundred volunteers took it upon themselves to clean the city cemetery, which was covered in debris, so it would be ready for Memorial Day. Some veterans are buried there and it's where the town's residents gather on the holiday, placing flowers and flags among the gravestones.

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

     

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    An Indian commuter pours water over his head to cool off as young children watch from a window at a railway station in Allahabad, India, Monday, May 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

    LUCKNOW, India (AP) - A blistering heat wave has swept across most parts of north and western India, causing massive electricity cuts and leading angry residents to protest and even attack power company officials and property.

    In the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, enraged citizens have set fire to a power station and held power company employees hostage for several hours. Police said Thursday that at least 21 people have been arrested for the violence and for damaging government property.

    Uttar Pradesh, home to 190 million people, is India's most populous state and one of the poorest. Its inadequate energy infrastructure has been unable to cope with the high demand for electricity as temperatures have peaked above 116 degrees Fahrenheit in recent days.

    The power shortages have left people without air conditioning or fans - and in some cases without water, as electric pumps failed - for hours each day. Uttar Pradesh has only 8,000 megawatts of electricity available against a demand of about 11,000 megawatts, forcing officials to schedule power cuts.

    People set fire to a power station to protest power cuts in Bahraich, a town 112 miles southeast of state capital Lucknow, while in Gorakhpur town, enraged people held power employees captive for more than 18 hours.

    In Lucknow, residents of one neighborhood lost electricity for more than 50 hours. They came out on the streets and staged a protest outside the home of a local lawmaker.

    "We were awake the whole night. This morning the power line was restored after our protest. There was no water, as no electricity means power pumps did not work. Small children were crying," resident Shankuntala Rastogi said.

    The state's chief minister, Akilesh Yadav, said in a statement that the government was trying its best to provide enough power.

    The high temperatures are expected to continue through the week, local weather officials said.

    Several neighborhoods in the national capital New Delhi have also suffered several hour-long power cuts this week amid searing temperatures.

    Western India also sizzled, with temperatures in parts of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra states hovering between 116-118 degrees Fahrenheit.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Tips for Surviving a Heat Wave

     

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    In this Wednesday, May 22, 2013, aerial photo, floodwater from heavy rains in northeast North Dakota surround a farm west of Cavalier, N.D., in Pembina County. (AP Photo/The Grand Forks Herald, Eric Hylden)

    BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The threat of a possible dam failure on a river near a northeastern North Dakota city appears to be easing, and officials were considering Thursday when 1,300 evacuated residents would be able to return to their homes.

    The level of the water behind Renwick Dam on the Tongue River began dropping at mid-day Wednesday, Pembina County Emergency Manager Andrew Kirking said early Thursday.

    Local, state and federal officials, with the help of the National Guard, built an emergency levee on Tuesday following five days of steady rain, to try to prevent floodwaters from eroding the emergency spillway at the earth-and-concrete dam six miles west of Cavalier.

    "The situation is improving," Kirking said. "Of course there is still a threat level, but it is starting to dial back."

    Officials planned to meet Thursday morning and hoped to set a time when the 1,300 residents of Cavalier, who were evacuated Tuesday night, can return home.

    Downpours between Friday and Tuesday dumped about 9 inches of rain on parts of Pembina County. The runoff pushed up the level of Renwick Lake by about 17 feet, but that had dropped by about a foot by early Thursday morning, Kirking said.

    In Crystal, a town of about 160 residents about 15 miles to the south, six families evacuated their homes Tuesday when the town was flooded by rain runoff. That water began receding Wednesday, and on Thursday "there is no longer water entering the city," Kirking said.

    "Their situation is improving dramatically," he said. "We have ordered in several cleaning kits from the American Red Cross in Grand Forks, to help citizens begin the cleanup process."

    The National Weather Service forecast shows a chance of rain over the Memorial Day weekend in North Dakota, but Kirking said officials have talked to forecasters and do not view it as a threat.

     

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    In this May 22, 2013, photo distributed by Miura Dolphins Co. Ltd., 80-year-old Japanese extreme skier Yuichiro Miura, right, and his son, Gota, pose at their South Col camp at 26,247 feet before their departure for Camp 5 during their attempt to scale the summit of Mount Everest. (AP Photo/Miura Dolphins Co. Ltd.)

    KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) - An 80-year-old Japanese man who has had four heart operations in recent years became the oldest person to climb to the top of Mount Everest on Thursday - although his record may last only a few days. An 81-year-old Nepalese man, who held the previous record, plans his own ascent next week.

    Yuichiro Miura, who also conquered the 29,035-foot peak when he was 70 and 75, reached the summit at 9:05 a.m. local time, according to a Nepalese mountaineering official and Miura's Tokyo-based support team.

    Miura and his son Gota made a phone call from the summit, prompting his daughter Emili to smile broadly and clap her hands in footage shown by Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

    "I made it!" Miura said over the phone. "I never imagined I could make it to the top of Mount Everest at age 80. This is the world's best feeling, although I'm totally exhausted. Even at 80, I can still do quite well."

    The climbers were going to take pictures at the summit before starting to descend, Miura's office said.

    Miura conquered the mountain despite undergoing heart surgery in January for an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, his fourth heart operation since 2007, according to his daughter. He also broke his pelvis and left thigh bone in a 2009 skiing accident.

    Nepalese mountaineering official Gyanendra Shrestha, at the Everest base camp, confirmed that Miura had reached the summit and was the oldest person to do so.

    The previous oldest was Nepal's Min Bahadur Sherchan, who accomplished the feat at age 76 in 2008, just a day before Miura reached the top at age 75.

    Sherchan, now 81, was preparing to scale the peak next week despite digestive problems he suffered several days ago. On Wednesday, Sherchan said by telephone from the base camp that he was in good health and "ready to take up the challenge."

    Sherchan's team leader, Temba, who uses one name, said that he would congratulate the new record holder once he returned to the base camp and that Sherchan would not turn back until he completes his mission.

    Sherchan also got good news Thursday when Nepal's government approved financial aid for his climb.

    The Cabinet approved $11,200 in aid for Sherchan's expedition and also waived the $70,000 permit fees, said Bimal Gautam, the press adviser to the Chairman of the Council of Ministers.

    On his expedition's website, Miura explained his attempt to scale Everest at such an advanced age: "It is to challenge (my) own ultimate limit. It is to honor the great Mother Nature."

    He said a successful climb would raise the bar for what is possible.

    "And if the limit of age 80 is at the summit of Mount Everest, the highest place on earth, one can never be happier," he said.

    Miura became famous when he was a young man as a daredevil speed skier.

    He skied down Everest's South Col in 1970, using a parachute to brake his descent. The feat was captured in the Oscar-winning 1975 documentary, "The Man Who Skied Down Everest." He has also skied down Mount Fuji.

    It wasn't until Miura was 70, however, that he first climbed to the top of Everest. When he summited again at 75, he claimed to be the only man to accomplish the feat twice in his 70s. After that, he said he was determined to climb again at age 80.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 10 Amazing Survival Stories from Mount Everest

     

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