Weather Service: Tornado as Big as It Gets

200mph winds earn it top EF-5 status

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted May 21, 2013 3:38 PM CDT

(Newser) – The National Weather Service says the tornado that hit Oklahoma yesterday was a top-of-the-scale EF-5 twister with winds between 200 and 210mph. The agency upgraded the tornado from an EF-4 based on what a damage-assessment team saw on the ground. Less than 1% of US tornadoes are this violent. Yesterday's was 17 miles long and 1.3 miles wide, and it lasted about 40 minutes. (One bright spot today is this amazing video showing a homeowner finding her dog on live TV.)

Several meteorologists contacted by the Associated Press used real-time measurements to calculate the energy released during the storm's life span of almost an hour. Their estimates ranged from 8 times to more than 600 times the power of the Hiroshima bomb, with more experts at the high end. As the cleanup continues, the death toll stood at 24 this afternoon.

A tornado moves past homes in Moore, Okla., on Monday.
A tornado moves past homes in Moore, Okla., on Monday.   (Alonzo Adams)
A tornado moves through Moore, Okla., as northbound traffic on Interstate 35 stops at Indian Hills Road on Monday.
A tornado moves through Moore, Okla., as northbound traffic on Interstate 35 stops at Indian Hills Road on Monday.   (Alonzo Adams)
A dog stands in the wreckage.
A dog stands in the wreckage.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Kandi Scott salvages items from the rubble of her home in Moore.
Kandi Scott salvages items from the rubble of her home in Moore.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Jim Stubblefield of Norman, Okla., raises a tattered flag he found while helping his sister salvage items from her home in Moore.
Jim Stubblefield of Norman, Okla., raises a tattered flag he found while helping his sister salvage items from her home in Moore.   (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Homes damaged by yesterday's tornado are seen in Moore.
Homes damaged by yesterday's tornado are seen in Moore.   (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
An aerial view shows Briarwood Elementary in Moore, Okla.
An aerial view shows Briarwood Elementary in Moore, Okla.   (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
A aerial view shows the damaged Moore Medical Center.
A aerial view shows the damaged Moore Medical Center.   (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Austin Brock holds her cat, Tutti, shortly after the animal was retrieved from the rubble of Brock's home.
Austin Brock holds her cat, Tutti, shortly after the animal was retrieved from the rubble of Brock's home.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Homes damaged by Monday's tornado are seen in Moore.
Homes damaged by Monday's tornado are seen in Moore.   (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
This aerial photo shows the remains of houses in Moore.
This aerial photo shows the remains of houses in Moore.   (AP Photo/Steve Gooch)
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