The National Weather Service has just upgraded the deadly May 31 El Reno/ Union City tornado to an EF-5 with a width of 2.6 miles wide, making it the widest tornado ever recorded. The death toll has now risen to 18, including 4 storm chasers who were killed in their vehicles while chasing the tornado.
The F-4 Wilber-Hallam, Nebraska, tornado on May 22, 2004 was the previous record holder for the widest tornado on record at 2.5 miles wide.
EF-5 is the highest possible rating for tornadoes on the Enhanced Fujita scale, and is the second to strike the Oklahoma city area in May. The devastating Moore, Oklahoma tornado on May 20 was also rated an EF-5 tornado.
The upgrade was based on information from a Dopler On Wheels (DOW) that measured low level winds of 296 miles per hour. This tornado was also double the width of the May 20 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma.
The record holder for the highest winds ever recorded in a tornado is the May 3, 1999 EF-5 tornado which devastated the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore. Joshua Wurman of the University of Oklahoma used a truck-mounted Doppler radar to measure the incredible wind speed.
Below is an incredible RaxPol doppler radar image of the El Reno, OK tornado from May 31 courtesy of the University of Oklahoma:
Video of the Ef-5 tornado:
This is an alarming animation that shows storm chasers (blue triangles) dodging the incoming EF-5 El Reno tornado (white solid circle).
Keep in mind that these are just the chasers who were equipped with GPS locators. Not all chasers are represented below.