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Posted:  |  Updated: 05/21/13 EDT

Oklahoma Tornado Seen From Space In Striking Images Provided By NASA (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

While emergency services on the ground work to help survivors in the aftermath of the devastating 2-mile-wide tornado that ripped through Moore, Okla., Monday afternoon, NASA has released images of a satellite view of the twister from space.

After severe weather conditions in the area became apparent Monday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tasked its GOES-13 satellite to take images of the weather event more frequently than its usual 30-minute intervals.

"The added frequency greatly assists meteorologists in understanding rapidly evolving weather events," NOAA explained in a YouTube caption posted with a high-speed animation of the stormfront that battered Oklahoma. (See the video below)

NASA's Aqua satellite also captured visible-light images of the storm that led to the Oklahoma tornado.

In the image below, acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on the satellite, a red line shows the tornado's 20-mile path through Moore, just south of Oklahoma City.

oklahoma tornado from space

Click the video to watch animation of the storm front that battered Oklahoma, then click through the gallery below to see more photos of the 2013 Oklahoma tornado, as seen from space.



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  • This is an image from NASA'S Aqua MODIS satellite of the storm system that generated the F-4 tornado in Moore, Okla. The image was captured at 19:40 UTC (2:40 p.m. CDT) as the tornado began its deadly journey.

  • This is an image from NOAA's GOES-13 satellite of the storm system that generated the F-4 tornado in Moore, Okla. The image was captured at 19:55 UTC (2:55 p.m. CDT) as the tornado began its deadly path. The line of thunderstorms that created the tornado is seen in the south-central United States and resembles an exclamation mark. The tornado was generated near the bottom of that line of clouds.

  • This full-disk image from NOAA's GOES-13 satellite at 20:45 UTC (3:45 p.m. EDT) shows the storm system in the south central U.S. on May 20, 2013, that generated the Moore, Okla., tornado. The massive twister was an F-4 tornado (winds between 166 and 200 mph) that touched down around 2:52 p.m. CDT and dissipated around 3:36 p.m. CDT.

  • The Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite, or Suomi NPP satellite, carries an instrument so sensitive to low light levels that it can detect lightning in the middle of the night. The Day/Night band on Suomi/NPP produces nighttime visible imagery using illumination from natural (the moon, forest fires) and man-made sources (city lights, gas flares). The image on the left shows city lights, cloud cover and lightning during the early morning hours of May 20, prior to the storms over Moore, Okla., and the Oklahoma City area. The image on the right was taken during the early morning of May 21 and shows city lights in the Oklahoma City area, but reduced light output in Moore, Okla., as a result of the major tornado that occurred during the afternoon of May 20. Storms from earlier in the day had shifted eastward and are still visible in the imagery.

  • NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite carries an instrument so sensitive to low light levels that it can detect lightning in the middle of the night. The Day/Night band on Suomi/NPP produces nighttime visible imagery using illumination from natural (the moon, forest fires) and man-made sources (city lights, gas flares). This image was taken during the early morning of May 21 and shows city lights in the Oklahoma City area, but reduced light output in Moore, Okla., as a result of the major tornado that occurred during the afternoon of May 20. Storms from earlier in the day had shifted eastwards and are still visible in the imagery.

  • The Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite or Suomi NPP satellite carries an instrument so sensitive to low light levels that it can detect lightning in the middle of the night. The Day/Night band on Suomi/NPP produces nighttime visible imagery using illumination from natural (the moon, forest fires) and man-made sources (city lights, gas flares). This image shows city lights, cloud cover and lightning during the early morning hours of May 20, prior to the storms over Moore, Okla., and the Oklahoma City area.

  • When pre- and post-storm Suomi NPP imagery are combined in a 24-bit composite (from May 20 and May 21, 2013), power outages in the Moore, Okla., area are evident in shades of yellow. Other areas appear yellow, such as Tulsa, Okla., but this is a result of changes in cloud cover between the two scenes.

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Filed by Sara Gates  |