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NOVA: Oklahoma’s Deadliest Tornadoes

Airs Wednesday, May 29, 2013 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: This image of the storm system that generated the F-5 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, was taken by NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard one of the Earth Observing System (EOS) satellites. The image was captured on May 20, 2013, at 19:40 UTC (2:40 p.m. CDT) as the tornado began its deadly swath.

PBS' premier science series helps viewers of all ages explore the science behind the headlines. Along the way, NOVA programs demystify science and technology, and highlight the people involved in scientific pursuits.

Courtesy of WGBH

The 2011 Joplin tornado was a EF5 multiple-vortex tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri, in the late afternoon of Sunday, May 22, 2011, causing catastrophic destruction.

Tornado Country

How is it that with nearly 200 nations in the world, just one—the U.S.—gets up to three-quarters of all tornadoes? Read the article by Peter Tyson for NOVA

Also, read about "Killer Tornado of 1928" by Thomas Grazulis.

On May 20, 2013, a ferocious F5 tornado more than a mile wide tore through Moore, Oklahoma, causing 24 deaths and obliterating entire neighborhoods. It was the third time an exceptionally violent tornado had struck the city in 14 years. Yet predicting when and where such killer storms will hit still poses a huge challenge.

Why was 2011 — the worst ever recorded tornado season that left 158 dead in Joplin, Missouri —followed by the quietest ever year of activity prior to the Moore disaster?

Can improved radar and warning technology explain why fewer died in Moore than in Joplin? And will tornadoes get worse as Earth's climate heats up?

In this NOVA special, meet scientists in the front ranks of the quest to understand extreme weather events. Also meet storm survivors whose lives have been upended, and learn how we can protect ourselves and our communities for the uncertain future.

NOVA is on Facebook, and you can follow @novapbs on Twitter.

Video

Preview: NOVA: Oklahoma's Deadliest Tornadoes

Above: Hear harrowing stories from survivors of Moore's massive tornado and meet scientists who stalk these ferocious storms. NOVA "Oklahoma's Deadliest Tornadoes" airs May 29, 2013 on PBS (check local listings).