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Tornado upgraded to EF4

The National Weather Service has upgraded the severity of Saturday’s tornado to an EF4, with a maximum wind speed of 170 mph. And Southwest Misourians should brace for another round of potentially severe weather this afternoon and evening. Weather conditions will be similar to those on Saturday that produced a single massive tornado that was on the ground for 74 miles - 29 miles in Oklahoma and 45 miles in Southwest Missouri. It killed at least 22 people - 15 in Missouri and six in Oklahoma and one in Georgia. “Once it came across the Oklahoma-Missouri line it was an EF1. But within a matter of minutes it quickly strengthened to an EF4.” Saturday’s tornado was UNUSUAL in that it tracked southeast instead of taking a more typical northeasterly path. Because it moved southeasterly, it pushed deeper into warm, moist air, helping increase the twister’s strength. “This was a wedge tornado that had some serious width to it. At one point along this track, where it crossed the Oklahoma border near Seneca it was a mile wide.” Tonight a strong cold front will be pushing in from the northwest and colliding with warm, moist air over Missouri. Two jet streams - one flowing at about 60 mph, 2,000 feet above the ground, and another streaming at more than 100 mph at 35,000 feet - may help twist thunderstorms that develop tonight into tornado-producers.

Image: Utility crews work near an overturned car that was tossed into a field by a tornado near Seneca, Missouri, Monday, May 12, 2008. (REUTERS/Mark Schiefelbein)

U.S. - Nearly half of the 21 people killed by a tornado that smashed parts of Oklahoma and Missouri over the weekend died in cars, troubling experts who say vehicles are among the worst places to be during a twister.

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