Map of May 20 and 31 Oklahoma Tornadoes with Population Density (SpatialKey blog)
In response to the horrendous tornadoes that struck my home state of Oklahoma in May 2013, my friend Doug McCune’s company SpatialKey composed some maps that reveal the relationships between the tornadoes’ paths of destruction and areas of highest urban density—concluding that approximately 34,000 people were in the direct path of distruction. This overlay really brings into sad, sharp focus just how much of a “perfect storm” these two tornadoes were. Had they occurred in less dense areas, many lives and many billions of dollars of damage would have been spared.
Multiple tornadoes touched down in and around Oklahoma City, causing massive damage and the loss of 42 lives. First, on the afternoon of May 20, 2013 an EF5 tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma. Then only 11 days later a series of tornadoes hit the same general area, striking El Reno/Yukon (to the west of Oklahoma City) and multiple sites within Oklahoma City (the western, central, and eastern areas of the city were all hit).
SpatialKey has been working to analyze the destruction of these tornadoes. Our data partner, Weather Decision Technologies (WDT), has created hand-drawn paths of the affected areas. These paths paint a grim picture of the destruction in Oklahoma. We’ve overlaid these paths on a population density map to allow us to understand how many people were impacted, and which strikes had the most effect.