Ask the 6 Storm Team: How strong can tornadoes be?

ONEIDA (WATE) – Mason, a 5-year-old student at Oneida Elementary School, asked the WATE 6 Storm Team how strong tornadoes can be.

The best way to answer that is to talk about the Enhanced Fujita Scale, the scale that rates all the tornadoes. It consists of six levels: EF0 through 5.

  • EF0: 65-85mph
  • EF1: 86-110 mph
  • EF2: 111-135mph
  • EF3: 136-165mph
  • EF4: 166-200mph
  • EF5: 200 and over

There have been 15 EF5s since 2000, but for the highest wind speeds, we have to look back to 1999. The 1999 Bridge Creek-Moore Tornado hit 301 miles per hour, but you have to take that with a grain of salt. These readings were taken at 100 meters or 300 feet above the ground, not at the ground. A lot of meteorologists will debate if that is the record because it wasn’t a reading at the ground.

A few other records:

  • Longest path was the Great Tri-State Tornado in 1925. It traveled 235 miles.
  • Widest Tornado was the El Reno Tornado that hit 2.6 miles at its peak width. Devastating tornado.
  • Fastest speed was the Tri-State tornado again. Didn’t travel 235 miles at 73 miles per hour but it did max out at 73 mph.

Thankfully we don’t have to deal with anything on this scale here in East Tennessee. At least we haven’t yet.

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