My apologizes if it appears I’m stuck on writing about tornadoes, but tornadoes are a pretty big deal right now in Oklahoma. And there’s a disturbing update to one of the five that hit the Oklahoma City metro last week. The National Weather Service has upgraded the strength of the twister that struck El Reno on Friday from an EF-3 to an EF-5. Its size was also upgraded. The NWS says it had a record-breaking width of 2.6 miles.
The update means the Oklahoma City area has seen two of the extremely rare EF-5 tornadoes in only 11 days. The other hit Moore, which is just 25 miles away from El Reno, on May 20, killing 24 people and causing incredible damage.
The NWS says last week’s tornado had winds that neared 295 mph. An EF-5, the highest number possible, is any tornado that has wind speeds of 200 mph or higher. AccuWeather Meteorologist Jesse Ferrell told USA Today that beats every world wind record except the more than 300 mph reading measured during the Moore, OK, tornado in 1999.
Friday’s massive tornado avoided the highly populated areas near and around Oklahoma City, which likely saved lives. The NWS’s Rick Smith told ABC News, “Any house would have been completely swept clean on the foundation.” I was in Moore hours after that EF-5 the week before. It leveled neighborhood after neighborhood. As for Friday’s twister, El Reno’s mayor Matt White told ABC News, “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. It would have taken out everything.”
Two rare EF-5 tornadoes in less than two weeks within miles of each other. One of them the widest twister ever recorded, and the second with the strongest winds ever. That’s crazy. Absolutely crazy!