The Most Incredible Oklahoma Tornado Videos

By Will Halicks

The massive tornado that ripped through Oklahoma on Monday has been chronicled on video by news outlets, storm chasers, and shaken survivors. Here are some of the most compelling clips, as chosen by National Geographic’s video editors. (Related: “Oklahoma Tornado: Why So Destructive, Unpredictable?”)

This video catches the tornado just as it’s forming near Newcastle, Oklahoma. In the background, tinny warnings from the car’s radio urge people to seek shelter. (Also see a video showing the birth of a tornado in Kansas.)

Storm chasers David Demko and Heidi Farrar got caught in the debris surrounding the tornado, now a giant storm, before it destroyed an elementary school and killed at least 24 in the town of Moore. Demko’s remark, “This is worse than Joplin,” refers to the deadly 2011 tornado that killed 158 people in Joplin, Missouri.

This clip offers a much closer encounter. As the tornado passes directly above his storm shelter, Charles Gafford III thrusts his phone through a gap to capture video of the storm’s whirling, debris-filled maw. (That’s a car tire blowing past at 00:36).

How did it feel to climb from safety into the wreckage of that storm? In this short video, a man witnesses an obliterated landscape when he leaves a shelter where he and others had weathered the tornado. (See more pictures of the Oklahoma tornado.)

Here, storm chasers capture the tornado passing close to a high school. The giant storm, wreathed in flying debris, tears the roof off a distant building (00:36) and gradually dominates the skyline.

Other videos show us miracles amid the wreckage. The Oklahoman captured a mother’s tearful reunion with her first-grade son, a student at the elementary school destroyed by the tornado.

In an on-camera interview with CBS, a woman who survived the tornado is unexpectedly reunited with her missing dog, spotted under some debris by a member of the CBS production crew. (The reunion happens at 01:28.)

Rubble from a destroyed neighborhood is seen May 21 in Moore, Oklahoma. Photograph by Brennan Linsley, AP

Tell us—what other videos have you seen of the Oklahoma tornado?

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Forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. He has 120,000 followers on social media. David Braun edits the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. Follow David on Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn