El Reno, OK tornado EF5 and widest on record!

June 4th, 2013 at 3:04 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Oklahoma tornado EF5  Click on the image to enlarge.   The El Reno, Oklahoma tornado has now been rated EF5 and the widest tornado on record, with a maximum width of 2.6 miles.   It’s not always easy to tell the width of a tornado – where the circulation stops.  Strong tornadoes can through debris out miles away.   Multiple-vortex tornadoes have smaller “tornadoes” rotating around the central core.   You can see in the image that the tornado crossed major highways (I-40, US 81, US 270).  The tornado covered 16.2 miles in 40 minutes (24.3 mph).  It’s also been given a very high maximum wind speed of 295 mph.  The upgrade was based on information from OU RaxPol Doppler data or mobile radar data, that measured low level winds of 296 miles per hour.  The National Weather Service said some of the subvortices had a forward movement of up to 180 miles per hour.  This tornado is double the width of the May 20 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma.  The F-4 Wilber-Hallam, Nebraska, tornado May 22, 2004 was the previous record holder for the widest tornado on record at 2.5 miles wide.The maximum wind measured in a tornado was 318 mph from a portable Doppler during the Moore OK tornado of 5/3/99.   Here’s video of the twisterMore video.  Here’s Reed Timmer on the upgrade.

23 Responses to “El Reno, OK tornado EF5 and widest on record!”

  1. Mark (East Lansing) says:

    WOW.

    1. Paul says:

      I’am not sure about that Mark, it didn’t happen right in front of you so you may want to question that, lol.

    2. Mark (East Lansing) says:

      Okay, DOUBLE WOW.

      1. Paul says:

        Bad come back, I thought you were better.

      2. Mark (East Lansing) says:

        What is there question, Skippy?

        How’s that?

        1. Paul says:

          I don’t know Dippy…

        2. Mark (East Lansing) says:

          Correction: what is there to question, Skippy?

          Forgive my grammer. I had just awoke.

  2. Mike (Mattawan) says:

    Thats just AMAZING! It’s a really good thing that tornado didn’t hit a metro area! That would’ve been unbelievable devastation!

  3. jim from Delton says:

    Unbelievable….you begin to understand how trained professionals could be caught off guard with this mega storm.

    1. GunLakeDeb says:

      I remember seeing videos of chasers fleeing this huge tornado, and remarking (in terror) that it seemed like they couldn’t drive out of the suction zone – well NOW it’s easy to see why….. what a terrifying thing :-(

  4. Ray says:

    Considering less than 1% of tornadoes are f5 is amazing.

  5. Jeff (Portland) says:

    Amazing !!

  6. Cort S. says:

    This thunderstorm complex as a whole has been absolutely astonishing, from all the angles you can look at it.

    NWS Norman just posted this on Twitter:

    “The tornado count for May 31 will rise as analysis continues, including an anticyclonic EF2 tornado SE of the El Reno tornado.”

    I am simply stunned by how weird that is. We usually only see anticyclonic tornadoes if a supercell splits into a left-mover and right-mover. The left-mover is anticyclonic, and it most of them diminish after a short while because they usually move into a less favorable storm environment to the north. But an anticyclonic tornado to the SE of a cyclonic tornado… that’s news to me.

  7. Cort S. says:

    Here is a radar image of the tornado captured by OU’s RaXPol mobile radar:

    http://i.imgur.com/vd506ok.jpg

    In the upper left is reflectivity, which is what we are all used to seeing as rainfall intensity. You can see the rain in the hook echo curling around and into the tornado. It looks very much like a hurricane, with an eye and everything. (This is not the only tornado to have an eye. It seems that many of the big ones have a noticeable calm spot in the middle. I heard stories from the Greensburg tornado that people started to climb out of their shelters when they were in the eye.)

    In the lower left is velocity. This is fairly confusing to look at because the velocities are aliased. Meaning, the wind speeds were off the scale, and when that happens, the positive velocities flip to negative, and the negative velocities flip to positive. But you can see two really good couplets that match up with the two dark spots in reflectivity. Those are two different tornadic vortexes, and that one to the NW is probably rotating around the other one, I’m guessing.

    1. GunLakeDeb says:

      I saw a man and his wife being interviewed, and she thought the storm had passed and started to leave their shelter, but she was sucked upward, and her husband was able to grab her and pull her back into the shelter! Now, when I see this monster had an “eye”, stories like that make sense…

      1. Cort S. says:

        An eye won’t suck you up though (the movie Twister is incorrect in that regard). One of Tim Samaras’s instruments 9 years ago measured a 100 mb pressure drop in 40 seconds as a strong tornado passed over it. That change in air pressure would be like going from Grand Rapids to Denver elevation in 40 seconds. Enough to make your ears pop like you are going up in an airplane. But as long as the winds are non-violent in the eye, gravity will still hold you down… until the backside of the tornado or hits you.

        1. GunLakeDeb says:

          Sorry I didn’t explain it clearly because that’s what happened – she thought the tornado was gone (just the calm of the eye), opened the storm shelter, then when the backside hit, was sucked upward until her husband grabbed her

    2. Mark (East Lansing) says:

      With the dozens of chasers surrounding the storm and the storm being so close to OU and the SPC, I’m guessing they must have compiled a ton of data on the storm. Yes?

      1. Cort S. says:

        Yes, this storm is going to be scientifically analyzed for years to come. I can’t wait to go to meteorology conferences to see the results of this collected data.

        Check this out… the experimental Phased Array Radar system in Norman captured this loop of the tornado. It has roughly 1-minute update times, which looks amazing.

        http://wdssii.nssl.noaa.gov/web/wdss2/products/radar/NWRT_20130531_ElReno.gif

        1. DF (SE Mich) says:

          Nice!

  8. Vicki (Holland) says:

    My Mom lives in the Tulsa area and one of the stories she told me was. Two guys went out to the barn after the storm and were working inside and they heard a noise outside on the roof. At first they ignored it. Then they heard it again and went to investigate. They found a horse on the roof! It didn’t have a scratch on it. They had to get a crane to remove the horse. The owner and where the horse was last seen before the storm was 14 miles away!!!!

  9. Vicki (Holland) says:

    My Mom lives in the Tulsa area and one of the stories she told me was. Two guys went out to the barn after the storm and were working inside and they heard a noise outside on the roof. At first they ignored it. Then they heard it again and went to investigate. They found a horse on the roof! It didn’t have a scratch on it. They had to get a crane to remove the horse. The owner and where the horse was last seen before the storm was 14 miles away!!!!

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