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Daryl Ritchison, WDAY, Published June 05 2013

Weather Talk: Oklahoma tornado rating raised to EF5 based on data

Tornadoes are rated based the type of damage they cause. There have been numerous tornadoes throughout recorded history that would have been likely given a higher F-or EF-scale rating had they hit a different type of structure.

On Tuesday, the National Weather Service increased the rating of the El Reno, Okla., tornado to an EF5, based not on a damage assessment but primarily on data obtained from a University of Oklahoma research Doppler that was able to scan the tornado. Based on that data, the tornado was classified as an EF5, with measured wind speed of 296 mph at 500 feet above the ground.

The Doppler also helped determine that the tornado was 2.6 miles wide, the widest on record. This is another example of how technology increases our knowledge of weather yet also skews the historical database, meaning we need to be careful when judging changes through time when multiple techniques have been used in record keeping.


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