Nova: Oklahoma's Killer Tornadoes

Nova: Oklahoma's Killer Tornadoes

Wednesday, May 29 at 10:00 p.m.

On May 20 2013,  a ferocious F5 tornado over a mile wide (seen here from space) tore through Moore, Oklahoma, inflicting 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 these killer storms will hit still poses a huge challenge. Why was 2011--the worst ever recorded tornado season that left 64 dead in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and 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 Tuscaloosa and Joplin?  

And will tornadoes get worse as Earth's climate heats up?

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