Storm Chasers Get Up Close and Personal with Massive Colorado Tornado

A particularly impressive tornado touched near Wray, Colorado recently and in true form the storm chasers were on it, capturing some jaw-dropping video as they approached sometimes just hundreds of feet from the funnel. Several tornadoes were reported in the same area.

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According to NBC News five people were injured and buildings were damaged by one twister, which was half a mile wide at times

Watch:

Here’s another brief video of the same tornado:

And a 360 degree video:

And a couple more:

Think its safe to say these are some of the most stunning up close shots of a Tornado we have seen in some time!

The most powerful Tornado ever recorded!

The 1999 Bridge Creek–Moore tornado (locally referred to as the May 3rd tornado) was an extremely powerful F5 tornado in which the highest wind speeds ever measured globally, 301 miles per hour (484 km/h), were recorded by a Doppler on Wheels (DOW) radar.

The tornado devastated southern portions of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, along with surrounding suburbs and towns during the early evening of May 3, 1999. Throughout its 85-minute existence, the tornado covered 38 miles (61 km), destroying thousands of homes, killing 36 people (plus an additional five indirectly), and leaving US$1 billion in damage, ranking it as the fifth-costliest on record, not accounting for inflation.

The tornado first touched down at 6:23 p.m. Central Daylight Time (CDT) in Grady County, roughly two miles (3.2 km) south-southwest of Amber. It quickly intensified into a violent F4, and gradually reached F5 status after traveling 6.5 miles (10.5 km), at which time it struck the community of Bridge Creek. Once it moved through the unincorporated community, it fluctuated in strength, ranging from F2 to F5 status before it crossed into Cleveland County. Not long after entering the county, it reached F5 intensity for a third time as it moved through the city of Moore.

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By 7:30 p.m. CDT, the tornado crossed into Oklahoma County and battered southeastern Oklahoma City, Del City and Midwest City, before dissipating around 7:48 p.m. CDT just outside Midwest City. In terms of structural losses, a total of 8,132 homes, 1,041 apartments, 260 businesses, 11 public buildings and seven churches were damaged or destroyed.

In the wake of the tornado, large-scale search and rescue operations took place in the affected areas. A major disaster declaration was signed by President Bill Clinton the following day (May 4), allowing for the state to receive federal aid. In the following months, disaster aid amounted to $67.8 million.

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In light of the fatalities that occurred under highway overpasses, the notion of them being safe areas to seek shelter was dismissed, and they were from then on considered to be one of the most dangerous places to be during a tornado. Reconstruction projects in subsequent years led to a safer, tornado-ready community. In May 2013, similar areas adjacent to the 1999 storm’s track were again devastated by an EF5 tornado, resulting in 24 fatalities and extreme damage in Moore.

The 2013 El Reno Tornado

The 2013 El Reno tornado was a very large and intense EF3 tornado that occurred over rural areas of Central Oklahoma during the early evening of May 31, 2013.

The widest tornado in recorded history, it was part of a larger weather system that produced dozens of tornadoes over the preceding days. The tornado initially touched down at 6:03 p.m. Central Daylight Time (2303 UTC) about 8.3 miles (13.4 km) west-southwest of El Reno, rapidly growing in size and becoming more violent as it tracked through central portions of Canadian County.

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Remaining over mostly open terrain, the tornado did not impact many structures; however, measurements from mobile weather radars revealed extreme winds in excess of 295 mph (475 km/h) within the vortex. As it crossed Highway 81, it had grown to a record-breaking width of 2.6 miles (4.2 km). Turning northeastward, the tornado soon weakened. Upon crossing Interstate 40, the tornado dissipated around 6:43 p.m. CDT (2343 UTC), after tracking for 16.2 miles (26.1 km), avoiding affecting more densely populated areas near and within the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.

The tornado killed four storm chasers, the first known deaths in the history of storm chasing. Although the tornado remained over mostly open terrain, dozens of storm chasers unaware of its immense size and erratic movement were caught off-guard. Near U.S. Highway 81, TWISTEX scientist and engineer Tim Samaras, along with his son Paul and research partner Carl Young died in the tornado. Paul and Young were ejected from their Chevrolet Cobalt by the storm’s sub-vortex, while Tim was still buckled in the passenger’s seat next to Young’s driving seat.

Local resident Richard Henderson, who decided to follow the storm, lost his life in that same area. He snapped a picture of the tornado from his cellular phone before it struck him. Other chasers, including Mike Bettes of The Weather Channel and Reed Timmer, were either injured or had their vehicles damaged. A Doppler on Wheels-based analysis of how the tornado impacted these teams revealed that they were hit by an intense internal sub-vortex. Overall, the tornado was responsible for eight fatalities and 151 injuries. The National Weather Service referred to the tornado as “the most dangerous tornado in storm observing history.”

Alongside rush hour traffic, thousands of residents in Oklahoma City attempted to outrun the storm by taking to the roads in an attempt to drive out of the tornado’s projected path. By attempting to escape the storm by vehicle, in direct contrast to the recommended plan of action, residents put themselves at great risk from the storm; had the tornado maintained itself and passed over the congested freeways, more than 500 lives could have been lost.

Intensity

The intensity of the tornado has been a subject of internal debate within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The agency utilizes the Enhanced Fujita Scale to rate and assess tornado intensity based on the damage left behind. This excludes the use of supplementary measurements, such as those from mobile radar, in concluding a tornado’s intensity. Initially receiving an official EF3 rating based on damage, the El Reno tornado was subsequently upgraded to a radar-estimated EF5 rating, the highest on the scale, based on data from a mobile radar. The University of Oklahoma’s RaXPol mobile Doppler weather radar, positioned at a nearby overpass, measured winds preliminarily analyzed as in excess of 295 mph (475 km/h).

The Vilonia, Arkansas Tornado of 2014

April 27–30, 2014 tornado outbreak – Officially rated high-end EF4, though the rating was a major source of controversy, and meteorlogist/civil engineer Timothy P. Marshall noted that the rating assigned was “lower-bound”, and also noted “the possibility that EF5 winds could have occurred” despite the structural flaws responsible for the EF4 rating.

Numerous homes were swept completely away with only bare slabs left, including one that was well-bolted to its foundation, and extensive wind-rowing of debris occurred. Trees were completely debarked and denuded, shrubs were stripped and debarked, and vehicles were thrown hundreds of yards and mangled.

A large 29,998-pound metal fertilizer tank was found approximately 3/4 of a mile away from where it originated. Extensive ground scouring occurred as well.