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The El Reno, Oklahoma Tornado

The El Reno, Oklahoma Tornado
Rachael Penton
Weather Talk

POSTED: Saturday, May 31, 2014 - 4:48pm

UPDATED: Saturday, May 31, 2014 - 4:53pm

Today is the one year anniversary of the record breaking El Reno, Oklahoma tornado. The tornado began at approximately 6pm on May 31, 2013 just to the southwest of El Reno, Oklahoma- a suburb of Oklahoma City. The University of Oklahoma's mobile Doppler radar detected near surface winds as strong as 296 mph - the second strongest Doppler estimated winds ever recorded on Earth. Keep in mind, it takes winds of only 200 mph for a tornado to be considered EF-5 strength. The storm grew from 1 mile to 2.6 miles wide in a matter of just minutes, making it the widest tornado in recorded history.

Photo: Supercell thunderstorm that produced the El Reno tornado.

Despite the known strength of the tornado that was measured via the radar data, the tornado is officially classified as an EF-3 by the National Weather Service. The reason why is because tornadoes are rated solely on the amount and types of damage found after the storm hits. The El Reno tornado traveled over a mostly rural area when it was at EF-5 strength, so NWS surveyors could not find sufficient damage to classify the tornado at this level. The damage surveyors did find led them to classify the tornado as an EF-3. Throughout it’s lifespan the tornado traveled about 16 miles over the course of 40 minutes killing 18 people- including 4 storm chasers.


Photo: The El Reno tornado sweeps across the Oklahoma landscape.




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