On Friday evening another series of tornadoes touched down near Oklahoma City. They descended on the metropolitan area during the rush hour in the midst of heavy rains that complicated tornado identification and caused significant flooding.
The worst threat emerged between about 6:30 and 7:00PM Central Time. According to CNN:
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says a mother and child were killed as tornadoes moved through Oklahoma City. Highway Patrol Trooper Betsy Randolph says troopers found the bodies near a vehicle along Interstate 40 west of the city.
Parts of Interstates 35 and 40, which cut through Oklahoma City and Moore, were “a parking lot,” the weather service said, warning that those caught in the heavy rush hour traffic “are in danger.”
“We’ve got a nightmare situation going on right now,” Betsy Randolph, a state Highway Patrol spokeswoman, told CNN.
“They are essentially sitting ducks on the interstate.”
Overturned big rigs and cars littered portions of the roadway, and thousands more were believed to be stuck in the traffic.
“My biggest concern right now is the traffic that is out on the highway right now,” Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said.
She said she has called out the National Guard, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the state Office of Emergency Management to “try to get the traffic moving” and get people to shelter.
As of Saturday morning I am mostly reading and hearing echoes of this Friday evening report. More details are needed. But there is a strong suggestion that even among the storm-sophisticated citizens of central Oklahoma there was a readiness to risk a “regular commute” in the midst of a tornado watch/warning and observable heavy rain.
The decision to stay or go is at the core of an effective emergency response. For the vast majority of threats the better decision is to stay. But a wide range of habits — from fire drills, to hurricane evacuations, to the daily commute — push us to go… sometimes directly into harms way.
LATE BREAKING: Please access the comments and many thanks to Mr. Rob Dale for very helpful additional information.