THERE BE MONSTERS: Terrifying Time Lapse Footage Of Mile-Wide Oklahoma City Tornado

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NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: They threw themselves over their students, stayed with them for hours and carried them, bleeding, to safety. The teachers of two devastated elementary schools went far beyond the call of duty when Oklahoma’s horrendous twister wiped out the suburban enclave of Moore. Parents and authorities hailed them as heroes and credited them with saving the lives of students. I was in a (bathroom) stall with some kids and it just started coming down, so I laid on top of them,” said sixth-grade teacher Rhonda Crosswhite at Plaza Towers Elementary School, where seven students were confirmed dead Tuesday by the Oklahoma City Medical Examiner’s Office. “One of my little boys just kept saying, ‘I love you, I love you, please don’t die with me.’ But we’re okay. We made it out,” Crosswhite told the “Today” show. All of the children with her are now safe. MORE

TIME: When do you hope a drought will last as long as possible? When it’s a tornado drought—and a historic tornado drought is exactly what the U.S. experienced between May 2012 and April 2013. During that 12-month period the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimated that just 197 tornadoes hit the U.S. rated EF1 or stronger. (Tornadoes are ranked on a scale of EF0 to EF5, with sustained gusts between 65 and 85 mph for the lowest ranking and above 200 mph for the highest ranking cyclone.) Going back to 1954, which is about when decent records on tornado hits began being kept, this is the fewest number of tornadoes to hit the U.S. over a one-year period. The previous low for a 12-month consecutive period? 247, between June 1991 and May 1992, which shows just how unusual the last 12 months have been. Consider that drought over. A massive, mile-wide supercell tornado ripped through the suburbs of Oklahoma City, destroying homes, schools and other buildings. The tornado was on the ground for some 40 minutes, according to the National Weather Service (NWS), and police reported that an occupied elementary school was in the path of the cyclone. Early estimates had winds on the ground near 200 mph, which would have made the cyclone an F4 or higher. Witnesses said the damage was like something out of an atomic bomb strike, and there are at least 24 people dead, including many young children, with a toll that could eventually be far higher. Nor is the Oklahoma City cyclone the only one to strike—more tornadoes hit the area, and last week at least 10 twisters struck north-central Texas, killing at least six people and injuring dozens more. MORE