Developing: Tornado Hits Oklahoma City Area
Published May 31st, 2013
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Tornadoes rolled in from the prairie and slammed Oklahoma City and its suburbs on Friday, crumbling cars and tractor-trailers along a major interstate.
The broad storm hit during the evening rush hour, causing havoc on Interstate 40, a major artery connecting suburbs east and west of the city. To the south, winds approaching 80 mph were forecast for Moore, where a top-of-the-scale EF5 tornado killed 24 on May 20.
Floodwaters collected in streets. Troopers requested a number of ambulances at I-40 near Yukon, west of Oklahoma City.
"I'm in a car running from the tornado," said Amy Sharp, who last week pulled her fourth-grade daughter from the Plaza Towers Elementary School as a storm approached with 210 mph winds. "I'm in Norman and it just hit Yukon where I was staying" since last week's storm.
"I'm with my children who wanted their mother out of that town," Sharp said, her voice quivering with emotion.
Hail and heavy rain pelted the metro area to the point that emergency workers had trouble responding to "widespread" reports of injuries.
"We're scrambling around," said Lara O'Leary, a spokeswoman for the local ambulance agency. "There is very low visibility with the heavy rain ... so we're having trouble getting around.
"The damage is very, very widespread."
Tornado warnings were also posted Friday night near Tulsa and near St. Louis.
In Oklahoma, storm chasers with cameras in their car transmitted video showing a number of funnels dropping from the supercell thunderstorm as it passed south of El Reno and into Oklahoma City just south of downtown. Police urged motorists to leave I-40 and seek a safe place.
Medical facilities in Yukon and Oklahoma City were preparing for a major flood of patients.
"We are gearing up to start receiving patients," said Integris spokeswoman Brooke Cayot. "They just sent a code yellow, which means an influx of patients is expected."
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