Oklahoma Tornado: NASA Release Images; 1.3 Mile Wide Twister More Powerful Than Atom Bomb? [PHOTO & VIDEO]

By Staff Reporter on May 22, 2013 1:41 PM EDT

Oklahoma tornado
Oklahoma tornado with winds rated EF5 ravaged the Midwest with a force stronger than the atom bomb that flattened Hiroshima during WWII. (Photo: NASA)

The terrifying Oklahoma tornado ripped through the state this week and caused indescribable damage that cost the lives of 24 victims. At least 230 more were injured by the twister.

To better understand the nature of the Oklahoma twister, NASA has released remarkable images captured from space that display the scale and power of the storm.

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Real-time monitors measure the energy released based on energy in the air multiplied over size and duration. The recorded calculations over the storm's 40-minute life span indicated that the storm possessed the potential destructive force of up to 600 atom bombs that flattened Hiroshima.

According to the National Weather Service, the Oklahoma tornado carried winds rated at the scale's maximum EF5 for wind speed, breadth and severity of damage. Winds were measured between 200 to 210 mph.

According to weather experts, the Oklahoma tornado was formed under perfect conditions. Multiple factors including wind speed, air moisture and temperature all came together at the right time.

Pennsylvania State University meteorology professor Paul Markowski described the Oklahoma tornado as an uncommon "Goldilocks" problem. "Everything has to be just right."

The sentiment was repeated by Colorado State University meteorology professor Russ Schumacher.

"Everything was ready for explosive development yesterday," said Colorado State University meteorology professor Russ Schumacher, who was in Oklahoma launching airborne devices that measured the energy, moisture and wind speeds on Monday. "It all just unleashed on that one area."

A tornado with EF5 rated wind speeds are considered even more brutal than the most powerful hurricanes. The strongest EF5 ever recorded goes to a hurricane that struck Moore, Oklahoma on May 3, 1999. Winds were measured as fast as 302 mph.

Despite the drama and destruction associated with tornadoes, meteorologists have more trouble understanding tornadoes than hurricanes.

Essentially, the greater the wind shear and moisture energy, the more likely a tornado will form. However, tornadoes are not guaranteed to form even when the conditions are right.

See more slideshow images of the devastating Oklahoma tornado at NASA's flickr gallery. Also, be sure to watch the tornado from space in the video below:

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