Monster El Reno tornado widest ever recorded killed at least 18 including 4 chasers

tornado EF scaleThe National Weather Service reported Tuesday that the killer tornado that struck near Oklahoma City last Friday was a ferocious EF5 twister, which had winds that neared 295 mph.

An EF5 tornado, the highest number on the “Enhanced Fujita Scale of Tornado Intensity,” is any tornado that has wind speeds of 200 mph or higher.

This beats every world wind record except the more-than-300-mph reading measured during the Moore, Okla., tornado in 1999, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Jesse Ferrell.

The weather service also said the twister’s 2.6-mile width is the widest ever recorded. According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory, the tornado blew up from 1 mile to 2.6 miles wide in a 30-second span. For perspective, Manhattan is 2.3 miles wide at its widest point.

The tornado, which carved a path 16.2 miles long near El Reno, OK surpasses a 2.5-mile-wide F4 tornado that hit Hallam, Nebraska in 2004.

El Reno EF5 tornado AP

The below video is an animation showing the approximate location of the El Reno tornado with chaser positions from the Spotter Network overlayed. The tornado path and size based on radar and path compiled by NWS. (A commenter added … Spotter Network is a smart phone app, like 4 square and other social media apps that can use the GPS functions of a smart phone to give live tracking data, the video is a very simple video representation of the raw data about heading and GPS location. The data was masked on to a map along with an animation of the Tornado track, that data provided by the NWS.)

The Weather Channels’ Tornado Hunt vehicle got thrown nearly 200 yards by the El Reno Tornado in Oklahoma City. Tornado Hunt crew and Mike Bettes were all okay. Photo Credit: @SeanSchoferTVN

El Reno Oklahome EF5 tornado hunt vehicle by sean schofer

Sadly 3 veteran storm chasers were among the 18 people killed during the May 31st tornado outbreak in central Oklahoma. According to the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office, Tim Samaras, 55, his son Paul Samaras, 24, and Carl Young, 45, died while chasing a tornado in El Reno. Tim and Carl starred in the Discovery Channel series “Storm Chasers”.

storm chasers Tim Samaras, his son Paul Samaras and Carl Young killed in El Reno tornado

Below photo from G+ Sid Burgess shows the chaser community saying their goodbyes to Tim, Paul and Carl in chaser fashion.

El Reno tornado RIP tim samaras

And earlier this week the Daily Oklahoman reported a 4th chaser perished in the El Reno storm: Richard Charles Henderson, an amateur chaser.

The paper writes:

From his pickup, amateur storm chaser Richard Charles Henderson took a cellphone photo of the first tornado Friday and excitedly sent it to a friend. Minutes later, that tornado would kill him.

R.I.P. chasers… and our thoughts are with all those affected by the twisters in Oklahoma and across the country.  Stay safe, j & B

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