The National Weather Service declared a tornado emergency Friday for the Oklahoma City metropolitan area that includes the twister-ravaged community of Moore.
The declaration means a large, destructive tornado is moving into a densely populated area where widespread damage and fatalities could occur.
The tornado emergency includes Oklahoma City as well as its suburbs of Moore, Yukon and Bethany.
Forecasters were urging residents in the path of the tornado to take immediate cover.
“We are desperately asking people to abandon Interstate 40” and head east or south because of severe weather there, Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper Betsy Randolph said.
She said there are reports of injuries, and authorities are trying to get people to local hospitals.
“We’re in a desperate situation,” Randolph said. “It’s dire right now.”
Authorities were evacuating Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers World Airport due to the threat from the approaching tornado, which the National Weather Service says is moving at 40 mph.
The Weather Channel’s Mike Bettes says his Tornado Hunt vehicle was thrown about 200 yards by the tornado.
“Airbags deployed. All are safe,” Bettes said in a post on Twitter.
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