Top 5 Tornadoes of 2013

As we approach the 2014 tornado season we wanted to take a moment to review the top tornadoes of 2013. In 2013 there were over 800 confirmed tornadoes. Some of these had huge impacts on the populations they affected. Most tornadoes fall within the range of EF-0 to EF-2. It is larger, and less common, EF-3 to EF-5 tornadoes that are responsible for a majority of injuries, fatalities, and property damage. However, even weaker tornadoes can leave significant devastation in their wake if they strike populated areas. The size and strength of a particular tornado can make it noteworthy, or it can be the sheer number of tornadoes in an outbreak, which may last for hours, or even days. Three individual tornadoes, and 2 tornado outbreaks were responsible for a substantial amount of the tornado-related injuries, fatalities, and damage in 2013. The tornadoes in El Reno, OK, Moore, OK, and Hattiesburg, MS had huge impacts on the populations in those areas. Additionally the outbreak on May 18th-20th in Oklahoma, and also the November 17th outbreak, affecting Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee were devastating to the surrounding communities as well.

#5 – Wayne, NE Tornado

On October 4th, 2013, at 5:12pm, an EF-4 tornado touched down southwest of Wayne, NE. This tornado remained on the ground until 5:51pm, having traveled 19 miles before lifting back into the sky. At its widest, this tornado was one and a quarter miles wide. Maximum wind speed reached were 170 mph. There were no deaths, and just 15 injuries. Several farms and homes sustained major damage, and crops were flattened. As the tornado intensified, it moved towards an industrial area, and a municipal airport. The industrial park was heavily damaged, with some buildings totally destroyed. Two hangars were flattened at the airport. Some private planes were twisted beyond recognition, and ironically so was the AWOS station at the airport. This storm system was unusual in that it spawned blizzard warnings to the north, in the Dakotas, while tornado warnings were being simultaneously issued to the south in Nebraska, for the same system.

Wayne Nebraska Tornado Damage

Mr Twister Storm Chaser Zach Roberts captured this damage just after the Wayne Nebraska tornado had hit. Full chase log

#4 – Hattiesburg, MS Tornado

On February 10th, 2013 at 5:03pm a multiple-vortex, EF-4 wedge tornado touched down in Hattiesburg, MS. It was on the ground for 33 minutes, and left a path of destruction twenty-two and a half miles long, and was three-quarters of a mile wide at its widest. Winds reached 170 mph. There were 82 injuries, but luckily, no fatalities. Total damages were estimated to be over 38 million dollars, and President Obama declared Mississippi a federal disaster area.

A tornado rips through Hattiesburg, Mississippi, causing damage to the nearby campus of the University of Southern Mississippi.  Read more:

A tornado rips through Hattiesburg, Mississippi, causing damage to the nearby campus of the University of Southern Mississippi.
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#3 – Tornado Outbreak of November 17th

Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio November 17th, 2013 spawned one of the deadliest tornado outbreaks in Illinois state history. After nearly 11 hours, there were 73 tornadoes, across 5 states, 10 people dead, numerous injured, and property damage reached over 1 billion dollars. Washington, IL was one of the hardest hit communities, by an EF-4 tornado, packing winds of 190mph. One home was completely obliterated and blown away, like it had never existed. Hundreds of thousands of people across these states were without power, due either to tornado damage, or straight line-winds. The SPC made the very unusual decision to issue a high-risk outlook for this area that day.

Washington Illinois Tornado

Ominous view of the Washington Illinois Tornado

#2 – Moore, OK Tornado

The Moore Tornado on May 20th, 2013, was a part of a larger outbreak that occurred across Oklahoma, May 18th-20th, 2013. At 2:56pm, a tornado touched down just southwest of Moore, and began rapidly intensifying. Within minutes, a violent EF-5 monster was heading straight towards Moore. Thirty-nine minutes later, 25 people were dead, hundreds and hundreds were injured, and over 2 billion dollars worth of property damage was left in its deadly wake. Briarwood Elementary School and Plaza Towers Elementary School took a nearly direct hit, and seven children died. Whole neighborhoods were leveled, and Moore Medical Center sustained heavy damage. The Moore tornado was the deadliest tornado since the Joplin tornado, which claimed the lives of 158 people in 2011. During its peak, the tornado had estimated wind speeds of 200-210mph, which debarked trees, obliterated buildings, ripped trees out of the ground, and completely scoured the ground in some areas. A 10-ton water tank was lifted and thrown a half mile as if it were only a leaf. NWS issued a tornado emergency for Moore and South OKC as a result of the massive damage that was occurring, strongly urging people to get underground or to a tornado shelter to survive this deadly tornado. The tornado of 2013 followed an almost identical path to an EF-5 which struck Moore in 1999..

 The 2013 Oklahoma City tornado as it passed through south Oklahoma City.

 The 2013 Oklahoma City tornado as it passed through south Oklahoma City. From Wikipedia

#1 – El Reno, OK Tornado

This was the tornado that changed everything on May 31st, 2013. At 6:03pm the tornado touched down southwest of El Reno, in open terrain. It remained on the ground for 40 minutes, mostly in open, sparsely populated areas. Because it was a slow-moving wedge tornado, it was more likely to behave erratically, or become a left-moving tornado. Which is exactly what it did. Several severe weather researchers, and storm chasers were caught by the 2.6 mile wide tornado, as it doubled back, making several turns directly towards them. Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras, and Carl Young of the Twistex research team were killed while trying to gather data to that would better warnings, and save lives. Their deaths were not in vain, as one of the probes they deployed remained functional, and data was later retrieved from it. Their deaths, along with the death of amateur storm chaser, Richard Charles Henderson, were the first fatalities ever within the storm chasing/severe weather research communities. Other veteran storm chasers and meteorologists from The Weather Channel were also caught by the tornado, and were injured, or had serious damage to their vehicles. Peak wind speeds were nearly 300 mph, and the tornado was responsible for 8 deaths, and 150 injuries. The death toll could have been in the hundreds, had the tornado not taken some of the turns it did, then dissipating, as residents of OKC began to take to the already congested highways during rush hour, trying to outrun the tornado. The El Reno tornado may not have been the strongest of 2013, nor caused the most deaths, or had the highest dollar amount of damages, but it did have the greatest effect on the meteorological and storm chasing community. The Twistex team were not yahoos running around after”naders”, but highly trained, and highly experienced researchers, for whom safety was always a priority. Despite having nearly 300mph winds, the NWS tornado survey showed damage consistent with an EF-3. However, due to the fact that the tornado path was primarily through open fields, there simply weren’t many structures in the path of the tornado packing nearly 300mph winds that would reflect any EF-5 damage. This rating is still hotly debated, and many people are calling for a revision of the Enhanced Fujita Scale, to include not only tornado damage, but also factor in wind speeds to determine the rating of tornadoes.

English: Shot of the El Reno, Oklahoma EF-5 tornado near maximum width and peak intensity. Shot from just east of S Banner Rd and SW 15th St intersection southeast of El Reno.

Shot of the El Reno, Oklahoma EF-5 tornado near maximum width and peak intensity. Shot from just east of S Banner Rd and SW 15th St intersection southeast of El Reno by storm chaser Nick Nolte

Zach Roberts

Zach Roberts

Owner/Storm Chaser/Photographer at Mr Twister
Hello and welcome my fellow photography and weather enthusiasts! I hope you enjoy my website and my photography. Nothing else in the world compares to seeing the beauty of mother nature in person, and I truly enjoying sharing my passion with you.
Zach Roberts

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