The geographical location of Claremore, Oklahoma means that it lies in the heart of a region of the USA that is referred to as Tornado Alley, a colloquial term that was first used by meteorologists in the 1950’s and which has adopted by the media ever since. It refers to an area between the Rocky Mountains and Appalachian Mountains where severe tornado-producing thunderstorms known as super cells are created when warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico meets cold, dry air from the Rocky Mountains and Canada. This refers to a strip of land running north to south and covering the northern region of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, with the eastern edge of Colorado, southwest tip of South Dakota and the southern edge of Minnesota also affected. While Texas is prone to more tornadoes than anywhere else due to its vast land mass, Kansas and Oklahoma get more per square mile and Florida also reports a lot, although the strength of tornado tends to be more intense in the former states. As a result there are very strict codes of practice that must be adhered to in the building industry to ensure that the structure is securely connected from the strengthened roof to the foundations and additional precautionary measures include storm cellars constructed in both residential and public buildings plus tornado sirens which are installed throughout high risk areas.
Tornadoes tend to form during thunderstorms however they can also accompany tropical storms and hurricanes which form predominantly will most often be at the right and ahead of the storm path as it comes inland. These usually occur in the late spring however the tornado season tends to move northward from late winter to mid-summer therefore Southern states are typically affected from March to May while May to early June sees more of them on the southern plains and Northern states and the upper Midwest endure the peak season slightly later in June or July. Oklahoma experienced over three thousand of these as recorded over a sixty year period from 1950 to 2009 and the state was severely hit more recently in May 2013 by a devastating bout of tornadoes that wreaked havoc and destruction resulting in the loss of many lives. Over twenty people were killed, including three professional storm chasers, and many of those were drowned when they were swept away by flood waters while taking shelter in drainage ditches. Others died as a result of blunt force injuries typical from flying debris including vehicles that were swept up into the twister. Despite the state’s strict building policies, many structures including homes and schools were completely raised to the ground while others were severely damaged with roofs blown off and windows blown out by twisters with winds reaching 295 mph.
On Oklahoma City was hit by several tornadoes in a matter of days including one that registered at upper end of the-scale. Classed as an EF5 twister, it hit the area less than twelve days after the previous storm with a record-breaking width of 2.6 miles but fortunately avoided highly populated areas, which would have resulted in much higher death rates. The suburb of Moore where the initial tornado struck was not as fortunate as many people lost their lives and the area suffered widespread damage. Back in 1999, Moore was hit by another EF5 which had the strongest winds ever measured on our planet at a staggering 302 mph.