El Reno Tornado and Storm Chaser tragedy

Widest Tornado in History

El Reno Tornado

On the 31st May 2013, an extremely damaging and killer tornado hit El Reno Oklahoma. El Reno is no stranger to tornadoes having been struck by a violent tornado two years earlier. The tornado on 31st May 2013 was extremely violent and erratic in behaviour - now earning the title as the widest tornado in history 2.6 miles wide or 4.2km on the metric scale. The path of the tornado makes an approximate shallow U-shape moving initially south-east and then east and finally northeast. In fact, the supercell slingshotted the tornado with increasingly rapid movement from about 25 miles per hour to an almost unchaseable 45 miles per hour in velocity! As a result, it had disastrous consequences with 4 storm chasers being killed. This includes Tim Samaras, a well-renowned veteran in the world of storm chasing with 30 years experience! Wind speeds measured by RaxPol doppler data were measured to be in the vicinity of 290miles per hour - amongst the highest wind speeds ever recorded within a tornado! The initial EF-rating was set at EF-3 and then upgraded to EF-5. Controversy has re-instated the EF-3 rating which is based on damage to a house. Nevertheless, the tornado's width will be difficult to overcome. Furthermore, the parent supercell spawning this tornado was extremely violent having produced a tornado two minutes after a wall cloud developed! The El Reno tornado has also reminded storm chasers about the dangers of storm chasing given the numbers of storm chasers now chasing tornadoes clogging up the road network. A better understanding about the strategies in storm chasing within the environment of specific types of events greatly increases the chance of not placing one-self in harms way.

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