This GOES 13 satellite movie was generated using satellite photos from NASA/NOAA. It shows the tornado outbreak supercell thunderstorms that developed across portions of the Great Plains on Sunday and Monday.
By Clara Moskowitz
The progress of Monday's disastrous tornado in Oklahoma was caught from space by satellites in orbit.
The GOES-13 satellite, which is operated by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, imaged the movement of storm systems in the south-central United States between Sunday and Monday, including the storm that sparked a tornado in Moore, Okla., estimated to be an EF-4 in strength, on Monday at 2:56 p.m. CT (3:56 p.m. ET).
The tornado barreled through Moore, a city of about 55,000 residents in the Oklahoma City metro area, with winds that were estimated at between 166 and 200 mph (267 and 322 kilometers per hour). Dozens were killed, and property was destroyed along a 20-mile-long (32-kilometer-long) stretch of land. The system that generated that twister can be seen toward the end of the tornado video footage provided by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
The MODIS instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite also caught sight of the storm clouds that generated the Moore tornado, in an image captured at 2:40 p.m. CT (3:40 p.m. ET).
The GOES-13 video shows storm systems that sparked other tornadoes in the Midwest from Monday afternoon into the evening. Several separate tornadoes developed in Kansas, Iowa and Oklahoma, and the storms ran along an extended path from Texas up through Minnesota.
Residents in Moore, the worst-hit city, were warned of the possibility of tornadoes for days in advance by local National Weather Service offices; a tornado warning was issued 16 minutes before the tornado actually formed. This was the fourth tornado in 14 years to strike the town of Moore directly.
Jeff Schmaltz / NASA / LANCE / EOSDIS
This image from the MODIS instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite, captured at 2:40 p.m. local time Monday, shows the supercell thunderstorm that spawned a devastating tornado. The red line indicates the track of the twister that hit Moore, Okla.
NASA / NOAA
A nighttime image from the Suomi NPP satellite shows the lights of Oklahoma City and the huge clouds of a thunderstorm, with lightning flashes recorded as squarish blocks of light within the clouds.
Hours after the tornado hit, the Suomi NPP satellite provided nighttime imagery of the Oklahoma City area, showing that the storm was still powerful. One image shows lightning flashing at 2:27 a.m. CT (3:27 a.m. ET). The pictures from the Suomi NPP satellite's Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite showed city lights in the area, but there was reduced light output in Moore as a result of tornado damage.
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This story was originally published on Tue May 21, 2013 1:04 PM EDT