Really. A two thousand six hundred foot wide tornado?
Yep, really. They can sometimes be as much as a mile wide.
2600 foot wide tornado? YES! I lived through one. On April 4, 1974 At 4:40PM. I watched a Tornado that was over a half mile across come over the Rt. 35 bypass and destroy my neighborhood, my town and two universities along it's path.
Oh yeah, they get that big and bigger.
Prayers for people struck in this latest outbreak.
Reports from last night were EF4-5 and 3/4 mile wide vortex.
The Moore OK tornado was 1.3 miles wide.
Video of damage from yesterday in central Arkansas:
Last year El Reno, OK had a 2.6 mile wide...the largest ever recorded.
Yes, there are a couple of photos of the “Mayflower Tornado” that show a classic, wedge-shaped funnel, wider than it is tall. Many—but not all—destructive tornadoes have that appearance.
The real question is why we keep losing people in storms that are forecast well in advance. The Storm Prediction Center was warning of a major outbreak two days in advance; they pegged southern/central Arkansas as the most likely area for dangerous, long-track tornadoes by early afternoon and had a PDS watch up 3-4 hours before the Mayflower storm developed. Couple that with warnings from the local NWS in Little Rock and other sources (including the Weather Channel) and virtually everyone along the twister’s path had at least 20 minutes warning time. Yet, 16 people died in Arkansas alone and the death toll will go even higher.
I believe there are several factors that contributed to this. First, in places like Arkansas, there are more people living in mobile homes and we know what a tornado does to that type of structure. However, the Mayflower storm demolished well-built wood and brick structures as well, and that raises another point: if you’re in the path of one of these monsters, the odds of your survival may be slim if you don’t have a basement or tornado shelter. In that regard, Arkansas is like every other state in Tornado Alley; the number of people with basements or shelters is very low.
But I think the biggest problem is complacency on the part of the public. The low-information crowd can’t be bothered with non-stop weather coverage (might interrupt the newest episode of their HBO drama, or at the other end, keep them from watching “Devious Maids on Lifetime).
Viewers who actually tune in receive a flood of information, and assume they know exactly where the storm is, and can go about their regular routine. There was a well-publicized incident during the deadly Joplin tornado where a young couple complained about not being served at a local restaurant because the tornado sirens were going off. They went to another eatery and arrived just in time to be herded into the walk-in freezer, moments before the EF-5 leveled the neighborhood. I wonder if they still go out to eat when their county is under a tornado warning.
Finally, I’ll put part of the blame on local radio stations, which should be a lifeline during a weather emergency. But due to budget cuts, they’ve deferred “live” coverage to local TV stations, cable outlets and the web. But when the power goes out, many of those other sources are unavailable, and when they tune to the local radio station, they hear (in most cases) an automated jukebox. The announcers, with the possible exception of the morning crew, are “voice-tracked” from a personality or format service hundreds of miles away.
When I lived in Mississippi, I remember walking out of a Wal-Mart on a story Sunday night, just as the tornado sirens went off. I jumped in my car and turned on the most popular local station; the announcer assured us that it would be a “beautiful day, with a high near 85.” Not only was the forecast hours out date, the station apparently did not air weather bulletins through through the emergency alert system (EAS).
I don’t know if it was ignorance, indifference, or a lack of warning through the “right” media, but there should not have been that many people on I-40 when the storm blew through last night. It will be interesting to learn if any of the victims died on the highway, or they were killed at home, in the communities hardest-hit by the tornadoes. When you’ve got a deadly tornado churning through the country-side, you don’t need to be in a vehicle, unless you’re law enforcement, another first responder, or someone evacuating from a mobile home.
I’m guessing you don’t live in the Midwest.
Not unheard of. They can get even bigger.
The one in Greensberg, KS was allegedly over 1.5 miles wide. If you google the images of the aftermath, it clearly shows complete devastation 8 blocks wide, which is a mile.
You ain't from around here, are ye?
They’re not all long, skinny things snaking around like Wizard Of Oz. The worst ones don’t really have that classic, recognizable form. It’s more like a black wall of boiling, swirling debris coming at you if you’re unfortunate enough to be that close. A half mile wide, a mile wide, sometimes more than that. From a distance they have a sort of wedge shape, as if a section of the storm cloud itself dropped down to the ground, and that’s not far from accurate. Some are wrapped in heavy rain which disguises them to a point, looking like a squall line. Those are almost as bad as nighttime tornadoes, you don’t really know where they are because the funnel and debris ball are obscured, and more people are injured or die because of it.
Oh, yes. EF-5 Parkersburg, IA. May 25, 2008
this one was over a mile wide. it was incredible.
the damage path was jaw dropping.
Tornado alley is just that.