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Tornado outbreak of May 18–21, 2013

The tornado outbreak of May 18–21, 2013 was a significant tornado outbreak that affected parts of the Midwestern United States and lower Great Plains. This event occurred just days after a deadly outbreak struck Texas and surrounding southern states on May 15. On May 16, a slow moving trough crossed the Rockies and traversed the western Great Plains. Initially, activity was limited to scattered severe storms; however, by May 18, the threat for organized severe thunderstorms and tornadoes greatly increased. A few tornadoes touched down that day in Kansas and Nebraska, including an EF4 near Rozel, Kansas. Maintaining its slow eastward movement, the system produced another round of severe weather nearby. Activity significantly increased on May 19, with tornadoes confirmed in Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois. In Oklahoma, two strong tornadoes, one rated EF4, caused significant damage in rural areas of the eastern Oklahoma City metropolitan area; two people lost their lives near Shawnee. The most dramatic events unfolded on May 20 as a large EF5 tornado devastated parts of Moore, Oklahoma, killing 24 people. Thousands of structures were destroyed, with many being completely flattened. Several other tornadoes occurred during the day in areas further eastward, though the majority were weak and caused little damage.

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One good thing to come out of the terrible Oklahoma tornadoes; hope among the ruins

Contributed by Brittany Staples

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