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Live Coverage of the Oklahoma Tornadoes
Aired June 01, 2013 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back to CNN's continuing coverage of the tornadoes near Oklahoma City. I'm Natalie Allen.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. We are with staying with you live every hour, bringing you the latest developments.
And Oklahoma has found itself right in the middle of a series of storms. And now, flooding threatens that state. Five people were dead, more than 70 people are hurt.
CNN's George Howell is near El Reno in Canadian county with details.
And we know that two twisters there touched down, George. What are you seeing there? We won't get a full look until sunrise. But, right now, what do you see?
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via phone): We Victor, you know, we pulled over because on the road, when you drive out here, and it's dark, you have to keep in mind, you find yourself going through debris fields on interstate 40 and that is a major problem. Especially when you're on the road because you know, you can tell exactly where this storm came through. You can see where the tornado came over parts of interstate 40.
Victor, there is one place where we saw these big semi trucks that were just knocked over like boxes. You know, and again, as you mentioned, very, you know, precisely, when we get light of day, we'll see what happened out here.
But tonight, the situation is this. You have a storm system that came over, parked itself over Oklahoma City early on and caused a lot of tornadic activity. And now, it's a rain event. This area really under a flood warning. We pulled off the road near El Reno. And we saw many of the roads that are under water right now. The standing water is a problem for people on the road. And you also have to keep in mind, if you drive into these different neighborhoods, there is a big concern about the possibility of trees down, power lines down. So, it's something to keep in mind, especially for people who drove away from the storm, Victor, and are driving back home possibly tonight.
BLACKWELL: We are looking at the video of these flooded streets there in central Oklahoma we saw a moment ago. Some flashes of transformers that have blown. We know sunrise some in central Oklahoma, still about 4:15 away. George, as the first responders start to try to respond to all of the emergencies caused by the twisters that touched down, do you see any of them out on the roads now? Or are they waiting as well for the rain to stop?
HOWELL: No. We have seen first responders in action, absolutely. You know, they are in action, heading, you know, the different situations. We do know ,we heard reports of water rescues. When we passed the overturned semis. We found first responders there, obviously, making sure the traffic, you know, goes around the semis, you know. It's definitely a mess out here. And it will be telling to see exactly how bad the storm was when we have light of day. We did pass through downtown Oklahoma City. All of the lights were on the buildings. That's a good sign. But again, you know, what was the damage? The strong winds that came through. That's something we'll be checking out in the morning.
BLACKWELL: George, one of the greater concerns, aside from the flooding there, and the first responders, trying to get to the emergencies that they're called to. Are the people who are driving around earlier, they were trying to get out of the way of the storm, now, some people out to see what they can see. Are they still on the roads at this hour?
HOWELL: You know, it really does seem to be -- anyone on the road, you are either a first responder, you are a news reporter, you know, assessing the damage or you're someone who drove away. You know, maybe you decided to venture back into your neighborhood. That's the big thing that I want to bring attention to because if you go down the narrow roads, the streets, you could into the power lines on the ground. That's big problems. So, that's something you could should think twice about. Maybe wait until light of day.
You know, Victor, the other thing about this and this is really what -- we, with all the precautions, you know, we -- Chad Myers, our meteorologist, was on the backside of the storm. He was with a very capable storm chaser, J.R. Henley, that's been doing it for many years at the University of Oklahoma.
And we were on the other side of that storm. We were on the side of the storm where it was coming toward us. We made, you know, all of the right moves to get out of the way fast, quickly. But this was a storm that just blossomed and developed and changed and grew. And moved south faster than, you know, many of us could have even imagined. And it really was a night of being a ahead of the storm. And really were about half miles ahead of the storm throughout. I think that -- and we got ahead of the traffic. So, you know, there were a lot of people, hundreds of people, who were doing their best to get out of the way of this thing. I think tonight, they are heading back.
BLACKWELL: Turned from a wind event. And now, a rain event. And the dangers still there. George Howell in Canadian county.
George, thanks. ALLEN: Well, some stories he's got there. What a night he's had, along with so many people in that region. The severe weather also stopped a major softball tournament in its tracks. Athletes, sets to take the field in the women's college world serried, instead took cover, you can see there. Six softball teams rode out the storm in an underground parking garage and in tunnels in downtown, Oklahoma City. Many in from several states for a tournament that got postponed.
BLACKWELL: Yes. Let's get the latest now on the U.S. storms. We are joined by Pedram Javaheri.
Pedram, we know that the warnings came early in the afternoon. People knew these were coming. But for some reason, they got into cars and got on the road which was the wrong thing to do. Walk us through what happened throughout the day.
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, METEOROLOGIST: Yes. You know, the storm prediction center, Victor, released a very interesting wording. And not often they do this, just a handful of times a year. A PDS, which stands for Particularly Dangerous Situation. And anytime you see or hear that, as a meteorologist, you know the storms are going to be severe. They could be long-live large scale tornadoes. And just 12 days ago, we had these tornadoes come through a portions of Oklahoma and Moore, of course.
A lot of folks on edge. And the ingredients had been in place for about seven to ten hours. And we knew this has certainly have the possibility occurring. The moisture coming right off of the Mexican gulf.
We have cool, dry air to the west, in the northwest of this region where they clash, where we have about 1,000 tornadoes every single year in the country. And about 800 of them happen right there out of Oklahoma, Iran, Kansas, working towards Missouri. So, the highest density area, the people most used to it were impacted by this.
But of course, when you have so many, 18 reported tornadoes on Friday. That many come down in five to six hours. And the majority touching down from 5:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. across this region, certainly going to going to catch people off guard. And you know, Fridays afternoon, folks getting on the roadways and look at the lightning strikes.
Tabulating nearly 14,000 lightning strikes in 24 hours across this region, just 600 or so in the past 60 minutes across this region. So, still, a very active night. We have tornado watches in effect. So those are going to expire in the next two to three hours. And that is basically saying that conditions are conducive for thunderstorms that could produce a tornado.
When it becomes a warning, the warning becomes such that these tornadoes are imminent or occurring. Right now, that's not the concern. But the storms certainly are capable of putting a tornado down, at least, for the couple hours, guys.
BLACKWELL: Is there any way to gauge the probability, Pedram? JAVAHERI: There real isn't, you know. It's going to be a smaller scale because, of course, we are losing daytime hates. We are approaching the coolest time of day here in about hour and a half or so. So, the probability is continue to decrease and now the flooding threat, of course are going to be increasing.
BLACKWELL: All right, right, Pedram, thank you.
ALLEN: All right. So, there you have it. Pedram talking about the flooding threat. We heard from a correspondent on the ground. What a wild and dangerous evening it's been and for storm chasers, well, who are used to this type of thing. So, imagine what rescue officials have been going through.
We are going to talk, now, with Lieutenant Jay Barnett. He is the public information officer with the Oklahoma City police department.
And Jay, I am certain that your people have been working so very hard. What can you tell us about the latest with trying to make sure people are safe and what has happened to the region.
LIEUTENANT JAY BARNETT, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, OKLAHOMA CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT (via phone): Well obviously, our emergency services are under strain. But we are continuing to provide and will continue to provide and local to provide emergency services in the Oklahoma City area.
We are experiencing continued to experience widespread flooding that's only being exacerbated by the storms that are currently moving through. It is -- the assessments we are getting here are that they are not likely to produce a tornado, but the flooding is severe and pervasive.
ALLEN: Well, we will continue to monitor that. I'm sure that we will be able to see more of the flooding as the sun comes up there in a few hours. We also know that five people died in this storm system. We got reports here early of at least 70 injured. That is like to go higher and two tornadoes touching down in the El Reno and there in Canadian County. I think the other is Union City. What are you hearing about the calls coming in, as far as the injured people and how widespread this is?
BARNETT: Well, the injuries, obviously weeks, getting a lot. We are getting a lot of calls on injuries. We can only confirm actually one fatality in Oklahoma City proper. At this point, we have recovered the body of a 4-year-old child that was apparently seeking shelter with other family members, certainly other children and an adult, in a storm ditch. And was swept away, which obviously, you know, deepens the severity of the incident exponentially.
So, beyond that, we are receiving a lot of missing persons' calls. But, we don't know how many of those are potential victims messing person reports are not uncommon. And most are cleared after the first 24 hours of an event like this. That said, obviously, the number of casualties would probably go up. We would expect that to go up in the next 24 hours. Hopefully, not very much. And hopefully not at all. Certainly appears that it may.
ALLEN: And we have also been hearing, Jay, that due to the wild nature of these storms, our correspondents and the storm chasers were saying they had a hard time staying ahead of them and figuring out where they were going. That aspect of this storm system, hamper all of the people you had out on the roads. That we hear the horror stories of the traffic jams, as well.
BARNETT: Well, it's hard to know exactly why there was so much traffic out. I don't know. And certainly, we are hearing about stories trying to get away from the storms. And certainly, we had people out trying to watch the storms. The instructions that if you have grown up in Oklahoma, and been in Oklahoma for any period of time. What you know is that when the storms are bearing down, you never, ever, ever want to be in a vehicle. It's simply one of the worst places you can be when a tornado is approaching.
Secondly, we know the traffic slows down our emergency response. It slows down the restoration of critical utility infrastructure. And that it was a problem. It does not continue to be at this point in time. Of course, a lot of those people themselves became victims as they got caught in the very fast rising water. We saw flooding and are continuing to see flooding in areas you would not normally expect it. And really, there is no question that the amount of traffic we had on the roads earlier, severely exacerbated the problem.
ALLEN: Yes. That's what we have been hearing.
Well, we know, it has been a very long night for you. You are very kind to let us talk to you, Lieutenant Jay Barnett, public information officer with the Oklahoma City police department.
And as Jay told us, they will be waiting to see just how much flooding the city has to deal with when it has light again.
Thank you so much for your time.
BARNETT: Absolutely. Have a good morning.
ALLEN: Thank you, Jay.
We have been seeing the continuous, amazing photographs and video. And these are the type of people that go into the storm when things like this happen.
BLACKWELL: Yes. Most people run from the storm. There are these people that who go toward the storm. These are the storm chasers who are bringing that amazing video to you, the center of the storm. We are going to learn why they do what they do. And what they learn from the storms as we continue our coverage of the tornadoes in central Oklahoma and Missouri.
ALLEN: And returning to our ongoing coverage of the deadly outbreak of tornados in the Midwest. Hello, everyone. I'm Natalie Allen.
BLACKWELL: And I'm Victor Blackwell.
Officials say at least five people died in and around Oklahoma City after a tornado touched down Friday evening. That storm system injured 71 other people. And those numbers are expected to fluctuate. The unstoppable force of nature tore through homes. Overturned trucks. Tossed some vehicles from the road.
ALLEN: More than 50,000 homes and businesses are without power in the Oklahoma City area right now, as is the Will Rogers world airport. People had to get to the lower floors there to ride out the tornado. Six more states have also been hit by the storms, we are told. Emergency officials say a total of 212,000 homes and businesses are without power across several states. And we will continue to watch this situation as it develops.
Dave Holder chases storms for a living. He drove right up to this one. I talked with Dave when he was in Ardmore, Oklahoma a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVE HOLDER, STORM CHASER (voice-over): there was a ton of traffic out on the roads today. It's something I've never quite seen before. Just the amount of people who either were going out to try to check on the storms themselves who aren't experts and doing this and didn't know what they were doing.
And two, something that I have never seen before. There were people trying evacuate all over the place. The whole metro, it was basically a huge evacuation zone when it came because we kind got south. All the areas, all the roads that utterly supposed south out of the Oklahoma City metro area were completely jammed up with traffic. It was just bumper to bumper traffic all the way like south of the metro.
And it was kind of a scary situation there, because if something had actually, you know, a tornado had formed south and gone over the area, there would have been hundreds and hundreds of cars and people stuck in these huge traffic jams during a very violent tornado.
ALLEN: Right -- because as the storm chaser, you were used to being out pretty much by yourself because people aren't out at these times. So, I'm certain that caused a lot of chaos. And how were the drivers doing at that time? Could you tell if there was panic, people trying to get out of the way. Did they realize the danger?
HOLDER: Yes. There was mass panic. And it's something that it scares me, something that I haven't seen it before. We were south a little ways, and people were actually driving southbound in the northbound lanes to try to get out of the way. Even though in fact there was actually no imminent tornado threat, people were really, really panicked. You could tell bitter rat tick drive.
We almost got in to a head collision trying to go north and having cars come at us the opposite way. It was almost like I thought about people evacuating from a hurricane or something where they open up the other side of the lanes to let people go. But I mean, such a dynamic, changing, evolving situation with tornados forming and the storms coming in, it was really just asking for catastrophe. I'm really surprised there wasn't more problems or more -- I'm not hearing anymore reports of injuries from car crashes.
BLACKWELL: So, Jay, Dave Holder talking to us a short time ago. We will update the latest numbers from the deadly tornadoes, including the massive number of people without power.
Our live coverage continues in a moment. Stay with us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLACKWELL: Welcome back to our live, breaking coverage of the tornado outbreak in Oklahoma. The storms killed at least five people in and around Oklahoma City. Seventy one people are injured. These deadly twisters ripped through homes. They tossed cars from the road. Pushed over trucks. They also knocked out power to 50,000 homes and businesses in the Oklahoma City area. The Will Rogers airport is in the dark, as well.
Six more states have also been hit by these storms. And emergency officials say a total of more than 212,000 homes and businesses are without power.
CNN's meteorologist, Chad Myers, joins us now. He has been in the mix of this dangerous weather all day. Chad is in El Reno, Oklahoma.
Chad, what are you seeing there? I know, we have a few hours before the sun is up. But, what are you seeing? What's been the greatest challenge for you covering this tonight?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): Actually, the greatest challenge is finding damage without going through the flooding. If we are looking for tornado damage, obviously, the flooding is not as flash budding, but it would coming up and it is receding everywhere around that flash flooding is just muddy and swampy and get in on dirt roads have turned to mud is just a recipe for getting stuck. So, if you are staying on the black and finally get out of El Reno here up on the 66. And we have quite a bit of damage here which completely looks like EF-2 or EF-3 damage. And just sitting in front of me. And quite a bit of damage to some of the buildings here. Some of the seminar and technology buildings around this area.
And you know what we knew, that El Reno really had the worst of it towards Union City, helps and damage as well. These were the very first places that we chased this afternoon, in the heat of the day. Temperatures were in the middle 90s, really warm. That's hot, muggy weather. And that creates big storms. (INAUDIBLE), and want to go higher and higher like a hot air that you give more fuel. And this is what you are seeing here now at this point in time. This is the worst damage we have been able to find all night.
Not a lot of prayer (INAUDIBLE). It's pretty unbelievable considering the signatures that we saw on the radar today. Yes, there are shingles off and (INAUDIBLE) the four by inch of plywood. But, it is not -- this is not Moore. This is not what we saw in Moore, anywhere across the city yet. And we are not getting anymore more scanner reports of massive damage. So, right now, it's just been trying to get around without getting caught in the floodwaters -- Victor.
BLACKWELL: Chad, I just got this e-mail from CNN weather center reports of up to 23 tornadoes struck last night over Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa and Illinois. And we see the video from one of those storm chasers now. I'd like to go back, if we can, to those live pictures. If you can tell whoever is holding that camera with you, there you go, to pan down a bit.
What are we looking at? Are the vehicle upside down? In front of a house. Describe this for us, Chad.
MYERS: That is a pickup truck on its top, with no place left for an occupant if anyone was in it. And this is the reason why we don't want people in vehicles when a large tornado strikes. They will smash the vehicle. The roof has no chance to stay up. And there is no place left for you in the car when the tornado is done. So yes, those are the wheels pointing up. White pickup pointing down. And that was in the parking lot when this tornado hit, obviously here in El Reno.
We knew it was coming across i-40. I showed you earlier a couple of the tractor-trailers that were tipped over. Irony with the tractor- trailers, if this happened six hours ago. They were tipped on the side. And their lights are still on, not just the flashers, the headlights are still working. On its side, I would think that the lead acid battery would have leaked out by now or something. Or the battery would have drained. That it's a strange sight. And now, the marshals and all of these guys that are picking the pieces up now, are waiting for daylight. Everything's on hold until daylight because it's hard to get around. It's hard to see whether there are nails or power lines down. And everything's on hold until first light. That's when things are going to start to get picked up.
BLACKWELL: All right, Chad Myers with us. Stay save, Chad.
Chad will be with us all night, as we continue to cover the damaging tornados in Oklahoma.
Now, the destructive power of the tornadoes in Oklahoma, really an incredible sight. We will have the latest from the ground and from the CNN weather center as they tell us as many as 23 tornadoes hit across a huge swath of the country. Stay with us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: This is CNN breaking news.
ALLEN: And it continues to be a very long night for people of Oklahoma City and in the Midwest region. Welcome back. Our continuing coverage of the tornadoes near Oklahoma City now. I'm Natalie Allen.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. We will be bringing you the latest developments in the story every hour here on CNN. And here is what we know so far.
ALLEN: And we are continuing to get so many updates every few minutes. Oklahoma getting hit by many twisters this evening. The massive storm system that spanned, rumbled onwards east into Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Indiana and Illinois.
BLACKWELL: The CNN weather is saying that as many as 23 tornadoes touched down across a huge spot of the United Stated. These are amazing images of a tornado that touched down Friday afternoon in El Reno, Oklahoma. At least five people in Oklahoma were killed. More than 70 others were injured.
The Oklahoma City police department, public information officer tells us, that unfortunately, the number of those killed will possibly increase. But he hopes not so high. Everyone does. Footage is coming our way from parts of Missouri there were hammered by this storm.
ALLEN: Right now, you are looking at new video we're getting in. This is what is left of a home in St. Charles, just on the outskirts of St. Louis. Look what a tornado obviously did to this house there in Missouri.
BLACKWELL: Thousands of people are in the dark. Hundreds of thousands in the middle United States. Power is out for 200,000 homes and businesses.
Here is the breakdown of those numbers. Missouri has 89,846 customers without power. In Oklahoma that number is 86,204. Illinois has more than 31,000 without power, 3,000 without power in Arkansas. And there are more than 1,000 outages in Kansas, about 500 in Indiana.
Let's head back out into the field, now. We are going to take you to just south of El Reno, Oklahoma. That's where George Howell is. He has been traveling around the Oklahoma City area, central Oklahoma, all night.
George, we know in a the rain has become a major factor. The flooding. Is it pouring there? And what has changed about the elements and the conditions in that area.
HOWELL (via phone): Victor, you know, we ventured here south of Del Rio. We're just south of 81. And you know, we are the gentleman's home. I'm looking at his home now. The front end of that home has just destroyed. Certainly, by the tornado that came through here. He's too distraught to talk to us about, you know, what he is seeing right now, with what's left of his home. And just down the street, Victor, it's dark. But I can tell you that his home is one of the lucky ones. That it seems like the home next to his is gone. And the home next to that is gone. And you know, just down the street, there are downed power lines. So, certainly, we have stopped. We are not going any further. But, we are setting up a live signal, hopefully, to bring some live report that is kind of show here in the dark what we are seeing.
On the way here, let me tell you. So, on internet 35, driving north, we were hit by heavy rain, really heavy rain. And we drove into Oklahoma City, made that interchange, got into interstate 40 heading west. As we got near Yukon and Del Rio, that's where saw this semi- truck that we are tossed over as if they were boxes. I mean, and you can tell on the highway on interstate -40, you see the debris field where clearly, the storm or perhaps this tornado came over. That part of the highway.
You know, it will be telling to see the extent of this damage when we get light of day. But right now, Victor, as you mentioned, this is a storm system that blossomed early today, well, late this afternoon, I should say. A few hours ago. Blossomed, caused tornadic activity. And now, it's a rain event.
In Oklahoma City, when you look at the radar, there's a lot of heavy rain that's falling. And we have reports of water rescues. We have seen emergency officials responding to different calls.
It's a busy, crazy night out here. And certainly, you know, we are waiting to see exactly how bad this storm was when we have some light out here.
BLACKWELL: And George, I want to talk a little more about the damage. And again, it's going to be difficult to get the full scope until sunrise. But, what we saw in Moore about 10, 12 days ago, was complete communities just devastated. Down to the foundation in some areas. What I saw the week before in Granbury, Texas. Again, an entire community Rancho Brassos (ph), completely swept away.
Is the damage similar to that where you are? Or more sporadic where a tornado would touch a few houses and go farther down the block?
HOWELL: You know, I'm seeing a little premature in the assessment at this point to say that it's sporadic. I mean, from what I can tell tonight, it seems sporadic. But, when we get light of day, you know, we will be able to see clearly, you know, that these tornados stay on the ground for a long a long time. Did they cause extensive damage?
Right now, it's hard to tell. But yes, it does looks right now as if there was sporadic. We are out here in a rural area. And you know, this is a neighborhood that was hit pretty badly. And you can find that in different spots. But you know, it didn't really cause major damage in the metropolitan area of Oklahoma City. That's still unclear.
The story is playing out right now is the flooding. That's what we're concerned about because a lot of people are driving back into Oklahoma City tonight. There were shows of people who made their way out of the path of this storm. And still making their way back. So, you know, they are running into heavy rain. Running into standing water. It continues to be a major problem out here. BLACKWELL: All right, George Howell, reporting for us just south of El Reno, where we know two twisters touched down Friday afternoon.
George, thank you.
ALLEN: We are just hearing some new information about the airport there in Oklahoma City. As we told you earlier, about 1,000 travelers had to go to lower ground and take shelter as the tornado came in that vicinity. The airport did not take a direct hit. But there is some debris in the field.
However, we are just told that the airport will reopen. That's the Will Rogers world airport in the next hour. So, people that have been waiting to see when they're going to leave will be able to check in and see when their flights will take off.
It is opening, despite the fact that we're also told, part of the terminal roof is gone. It was blown off. So we will be getting pictures of that with daylight.
Right now, let's head over to Pedram Javaheri again at the weather center and talk about where this storm, where it is headed? The flooding that we're hearing. And Victor telling us some reports of 23 tornadoes touching down.
JAVAHERI: Yes, 23 across the region, you know, just in the last few seconds, Natalie. Just getting word that preliminary reports of at least five tornadoes across Oklahoma on Friday. So, the number is concentrated to be five in and around Oklahoma City. And we know, of course, three of them being reported in the last couple hours.
But look at the rainfall just really blossom across this region. From 3:00 in the afternoon, where hardly a drop was falling out of the skies across Oklahoma to 7:00, 8:00, and eventually by 11:00 p.m., we are talking about a month's worth of rainfall, about five to six inches in some areas in and around the city have come down. And of course, the tornado threat across these areas, high precept thunderstorms make it hard to see thunderstorms. So, you're driving down the road, it's coming down one to two inches an hour, certainly, it was makes it difficult to see your surroundings. And if you have a tornado, because a lot of times we see the video, we see a defined funnel. But very good bet that with the amount of rainfall we saw, very difficult to see any of the tornados that perhaps people may have been very close to.
And just have the stats here on how many tornados we see across the country from 1981 until 2010. The stats shows a number, 80 in March. Look what happens in April. Of course, you know May being the heaviest of tornado activity across the U.S. in June, certainly, one of the highest, as well, about 243.
But, we have been talking about a tornado drought. Go back to early in March. The yellow numbers indicate the confirmed or reported tornadoes in March, 18, that was the quietest March we have had in 35 years for tornados. Then, the next month. We only had 83 tornadoes. The quietest month, April, in 21 years. And all of the s In the past five days, 111 tornadoes, bringing up around to the average mark of 276 and 207, being the number the right now, we are sitting on. So, a very active pattern, certainly. It looks like the next month or so, it could continue as now we are beginning to see the ingredients coming into play.
We have cool temperatures across the southeast, not conducive of these thunderstorms develop and still seeing a really of lot of lightning strikes across the streets at 500 mile area. If you're traveling across i-40, eventually 44, eventually i-70, these drones are literally driving up with you on the highways and making it a very, very dangerous because some of them, still can produce tornadoes across this region.
And you see, and this is what George Howell was talking about. The storms out of Oklahoma City, now, they are very much scattered. And notice, they are beginning to break apart, as opposed to the one organized complex they were early in the evening. So, we are seeing signs of improvement and heavy rains, as well.
ALLEN: All right. Well, that's very good to hear, Pedram. Thank you.
A lot of people glued this their TV sets across the region right now. And we have been getting amazing images from the storm chasers. There's an old expression, you can run but you can't hide, but you can do both and live to tell about it though, when a tornado is coming.
BLACKWELL: Yes. But you have to know where to go. If you're in a car, if you are in a home, if you are some walking on the street, where should you go.
Well, CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has potentially life-saving tips.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very large storm heading into Moore, Oklahoma.
DOCTOR SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thirteen minutes. That's the average lead time you'd have if a tornado was headed your way.
(On-camera): There is, obviously, no completely safe option during a tornado. Your best bet is to get into a basement somewhere below ground level. But keep in mind, that you are there, you want to see what's on the floor above you as well, refrigerator, a piece of heavy furniture could come through the floor. So, you want to be aware that have.
Also, here in Moore, Oklahoma, there aren't a lot of basements. Studies show there is another very good option. Take a look over here. An interior room or a closet like that can be the best place to be as well. The house is gone here, but that closet preserved, even the clothes inside.
Remember, just got 13 minutes, so find the safe place, maybe grab a helmet or a bike helmet, event throw some mattresses or a blanket over you to try and protect the head.
One place you can't hide from a tornado is in the car. Tornado strength winds can pick up a one to two ton vehicle like this one and toss it around like you or I would a basketball.
Now, you obviously, don't want to be driving toward a tornado, but it's also a bad idea to be driving away from a tornado. It's hard to gauge the distance. If you must be driving and the weather is clear, try driving at right angles to get out of the path of the storm.
There is another misconception as well which is to get out of the car and run underneath an overpass. What happens in a situation like this is the wind is actually funneled It's even more powerful than the storm and there's also a lot of debris. And that debris can injure you.
Now, if you are stuck outside as a tornado approaches, find a ditch. Or any place far away from potentially dangerous objects and vehicles, and stay low.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Moore, Oklahoma.
ALLEN: Good advice. A lot of people doing just that throughout the Midwest this morning, I should say.
BLACKWELL: Yes, this morning.
ALLEN: It's hard to believe. Oklahoma City once again, pummeled by deadly tornadoes. We will continue to follow it as we push on.
BLACKWELL: And we will have more on the other top stories coming up. Stay with us.
BLACKWELL: And 11 minutes until 4:00 a.m. here on the east coast. The national weather service tells us that five tornadoes hit in and around Oklahoma City. That's preliminary number. It could change of course.
ALLEN: Really amazing what they have been through. Yet again, Friday night's twisters killed at least five people in Oklahoma, injured more than 70 others. The storm sent understandably spooked residents running for cover. The tornado-spawning storm system has, for the most part, moved across Oklahoma now, which remains under a state of emergency. Lots of flooding in the area. It remains under a state of emergency following the May 20th tornado.
Right now, the storm system is menacing Missouri. We have pictures from what looked like a tornado in Missouri, also, Illinois. The governor of Missouri, declaring a state of emergency there, after several days of heavy rain. Flooding is a real danger. Missouri has been drenched by heavy rain.
BLACKWELL: Forecasters are warning Illinois to brace itself for strong winds and damaging hail. And the threat of more tornadoes, the storms have knocked out power to 212 homes and businesses, in Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas and Indiana.
And looking at some of the other stories making headlines around the world now.
ALLEN: Four firefighters died fighting a fire in Houston Friday. It happened during a hotel fire with wall collapse. Houston's mayor says other firefighters tried to save their colleagues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR ANNISE PARKER, HOUSTON: Going to go in the history of the Houston fire department as the worst day in the history of the Houston fire department. The greatest loss of lives in the proud tradition of the Houston fire department.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: The dead firefighters include three men and one woman.
BLACKWELL: The FBI found quote, "very low concentrations of ricin on letters sent to President Obama and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg." Authorities in Texas have searched at home of a man who possibly connected with those threatening letters. At least ten letter are contaminated with the poison have been sent to government officials in recent weeks.
ALLEN: A small plane crashed into an apartment building in Herndon, Virginia early Friday. Two people in the plane and one person on the ground were injured and taken to the hospital. Authorities say the plane just ran out of gas and the pilot was trying to land at a nearby airport when it hit the apartment.
BLACKWELL: Clashes went well into the night in Istanbul, Turkey as police fired water cannon in effort to clear demonstrators from the central part of the city. The protesters have been rallying against a plans to build a shopping mall, but some say it's grown into something bigger now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELBRUZ YILMAZ, PROTESTER: We don't want this to be a shopping mall. And it's something else because the prime minister is controlling the media, the police, and we have no control about what gets out in term was news from Turkey.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: This isn't about a shopping mall, anymore?
YILMAZ: Not anymore. This is, I think it's going towards some political. And suppression has come to a certain level where people are fed up with this, So, we are going to change it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Well, late Friday, a court agreed to hear the case against the construction and ordered a temporary stop.
ALLEN: The second main suspect in the gruesome slaying of British soldier, Michael Adebolajo, is out of the hospital. Michael Adebowale, shown here in the 2011 photo, is now in police custody. The other suspect has been charged with murder, and two other men linked to the case were arrested on Friday.
BLACKWELL: A prelim mare report says mistakes in routine maintenance are to blame for last week's emergency landing at heath row. The report found two coverings on the British airways to plane's engines were left unlatched after maintenance. Look at this. Imagine looking out at your window while you are in a plane and seeing that, all right? Well, the cowl detached from the engine during takeoff, puncturing a fuel pipe on the right side.
ALLEN: Well, 74 years after she disappeared while flying over the Pacific Ocean, Amelia Earhart is in the news again.
BLACKWELL: Possible new evidence suggests that one man know where's Earhart's plane is. And he's working to raise the funds to find out for sure.
CNN's Brian Todd has the story.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A man who has been chasing the mystery of Amelia Earhart for a quarter-century, believes this grainy, almost pixilated-looking image from the ocean floor may bring us closer to finding her.
RIC GILLESPIE, THE INTERNATIONAL GROUP FOR HISTORIC AIRCRAFT RECOVERY: It's unlike anything else on that whole reef that showed up in the sonar imagery.
TODD: Rick Gillespie is with the International group for historic aircraft recovery. With the roving's submersible, his team captured this, a sonar image. He says this anomaly on an ocean shelf off the coast of the Pacific Island of (INAUDIBLE), could be the remnants of Earhart's plane.
On July 2nd, 1937, Amelia Earhart, attempting to become the first person to fly around the globe at the equator, vanished off Helmand (ph) Island, the last place for monitors' lost contract with here. Not a trace of Earhart or her plane have been found.
For years, Gillespie and his team believe her plane went down around Nikimaroro, about 300 miles southeast of Helmand (ph). I held a rambling of what the split up fuselage might look like against Gillespie's new image.
Why do you think the anomaly matches the fuselage of Earhart's plane?
GILLESPIE: We know how a lock heed electric breaks up in a crash. We studied other crashes and we know that the center section of the airplane is the strongest part, the part that holds together. The engines tend to come off. The outer wings come off. The fuselage breaks behind the wing. So, the size of it hangs together the best.
TODD: Gillespie admits there's a chance this isn't Earhart's plane. Still, he is trying to race $3 million for an expedition to Nikimaroro next year.
But there are plenty of skeptics of Gillespie's latest theory and of his work overall. Skeptics believe he's attached himself to the idea that the remains of Earhart's plane are at Nikimaroro. And they believe he is flat wrong.
One skeptic, Dorothy Cochrane, curator of the national air and space museum in nothing.
DOROTHY COCHRANE, CURATOR, NATIONAL AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM: There's nothing that has says this was part of Earhart's equipment. There is nothing that has a number, a designation that would indicate it was part of Amelia Earhart's air craft. There is nothing that can only be traced to Amelia Earhart.
TODD: Cochrane points out, Gillespie's launched other expeditions that have dug up human bones, items common to that era. But that he never found proof that Amelia Earhart's there. Cochrane and the other historians believe Earhart's remains are somewhere near Helmand (ph) island. She said that is based on Earhart's radio transmission and the fact that she was circling close when she disappeared.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
ALLEN: Never stop trying to figure that one out.
BLACKWELL: The search continues.
ALLEN: Stay with us, as we continue to bring you developments with the storms going across the U.S.
BLACKWELL: Oklahoma and Missouri are in a state of emergency tonight.
Don't go away. This is CNN breaking news.