El Reno Tornado Widest Ever Recorded: Witness EF5 Twister At Peak Strength Over Midwest [VIDEO]
On May 31, a rare EF5 maximum strength Oklahoma tornado was the widest twister the National Weather Service had ever recorded. According to a Tuesday report, the Oklahoma tornado measured an incredible 2.6 miles wide.
The previous record for the widest hurricane occurred in 2004 when a twister measuring 2.5 miles wide ripped through Nebraska.
The deadly tornado was just one of many that devastated the Midwest. Destroying everything in its path, the Oklahoma tornado produced winds reaching 295 mph and caused flooding that killed 18 people. Just a week before the widest Oklahoma tornado, another twister struck Moore, a city 25 miles away from El Reno on May 20. The tornado killed 24.
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"To have two EF5s within less than two weeks in the same general area -- that's highly unusual," Weber told LiveScience. "Off the top of my head, I haven't heard of it happening before."
Fortunately, the record width Friday tornado managed to avoid the heavily populated Oklahoma City. According to chief warning coordination meteorologist Rick Smith, no structures were nearby when the Oklahoma tornado winds were at their most powerful. Forecasters claim the tornado's path likely saved many lives.
"Any house would have been completely swept clean on the foundation. That's just my speculation," Smith said. "We're looking at extremes ... in the rare EF5 category. This in the super rare category because we don't deal with things like this often."
"If it was two more miles this way, it would have wiped out all of downtown, almost every one of our subdivisions and almost all of our businesses," described El Reno Mayor Matt White. "It would have taken out everything.
"It's very scary ... I don't think a normal person can fathom just how scary. I don't think they realize how lucky El Reno was."
Unfortunately, weather forecasters say bad weather in Oklahoma has yet to end as as more extreme weather could be on the way later this week. "We have a perfect setup for really big tornadoes over this part of the country -- and it looks like we might see [a tornado outbreak] again midweek," said Jeff Weber, a scientist with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.
See dramatic raw footage of the widest Oklahoma Tornado ever recorded. Don't miss the video below:
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