MOORE, Okla. (AP) -- The National Weather Service says the tornado that hit Moore, Okla., was a top-of-the-scale EF-5 twister with winds of at least 200 mph.
Spokeswoman Keli Pirtle said Tuesday the agency upgraded the tornado from an EF-4 on the enhanced Fujita scale to an EF-5 based on what a damage assessment team saw on the ground. The weather service uses the word "incredible" to describe the power of EF-5 storms.
The weather service says the tornado's path was 17 miles long and 1.3 miles wide.
Pirtle says Monday's twister is the first EF-5 tornado of 2013.
The fire chief in Moore, Okla., says crews will search the entire community at least twice more to make sure that no survivors or victims have been overlooked.
New search and rescue teams moved in at dawn today, taking over from the 200 or so emergency responders who had worked all night, looking through blocks of homes and other structures that were destroyed by yesterday's massive tornado.
At least 24 people were killed, including at least nine children, and those numbers are expected to climb.
Authorities initially said as many as 51 people were dead.
Some of the search-and-rescue teams have been focusing their efforts on an elementary school where the storm ripped off the roof, knocked down walls and turned the playground into a mass of twisted plastic and metal, as students and teachers huddled in hallways and bathrooms. Children from the school are among the dead, but several students were pulled alive from under a collapsed wall and other debris.
The fire chief says officials are still trying to account for a handful of children who weren't found at the school but may have gone home early with their parents.