Tornadoes have killed twelve people in central Oklahoma, including a mother and her baby, and menaced Oklahoma City where 11 days ago a twister ranked as EF5, the highest level, tore through the suburb of Moore, killing 24.
The mother and baby were killed on Friday on Interstate 40, just west of Oklahoma City, when the storm swept up their car and sucked them out of it. Dozens of vehicles, including large trucks, were thrown about and upended. There was even a report of a cow being blown over a highway.
A meteorologist from the Weather Channel suffered minor injuries when the "tornado hunt" car he was travelling in was thrown 200 yards. Hollywood Casino in Maryland Heights was also evacuated when part of its roof was blown off. At the storms' height, there were reports of hailstones as large as baseballs.
The National Weather Service could not say exactly how many tornadoes had touched down, but three thunderstorms with the potential to produce tornadoes rolled through the centre of the state. Later, flash floods submerged parts of the sprawling metropolitan area, home to more than 1.3 million people. Eight inches of rain fell on Oklahoma City in a few hours, making the tornado difficult to spot for motorists trying to beat it home.
The US averages more than 1,200 tornadoes a year, mostly quite small. Of the 60 EF5s to hit since 1950, Oklahoma and Alabama have been hit the most – seven times each.