Tornado Facts


The United States reports over 1,000 tornadoes each year. In 2013 alone, 44 people in the United States were killed by a tornado. Tornadoes are powerful and impressive acts of nature, widely regarded as one of the most severe and dangerous weather phenomenon on the planet. Here are some record breaking tornadoes as well as some tornado related facts:

The Deadliest Tornado

The Deadliest Tornado

The Tri-State Tornado, March 18, 1925
695 Dead
The Great Tri-State tornado was the most deadly tornado among a massive tornado outbreak of at least 12 recorded tornadoes on March 18th, 1925. It left a track of 235 miles across the three states of Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana, the longest ever recorded in world. It was not officially rated by NOAA, but it is recognized by many experts as an F5 tornado. The Great Tri-State Tornado killed more than twice as many people as the second deadliest tornado, the 1840 Great Natchez Tornado which had an estimated death toll of 320.

Joplin Missouri, May 22, 2011

The Most Expensive Tornado

Joplin Missouri, May 22, 2011
$2.9 billion
The 2011 Joplin Tornado was a catastrophic EF5 multiple-vortex tornado. It hit late on a Sunday afternoon without much warning, reaching nearly one mile in diameter, and struck a path through a populated southern section of the city. The tornado killed 158 people, injured 1150 others and caused massive damages amounting to a total of $2.8 billion dollars. It is ranked as the seventh-deadliest tornado in the United States.

The Fastest Tornado Winds

Moore, Oklahoma, May 3, 1999
318 MPH
With the highest wind speeds for a tornado measured globally, and the among the highest winds known to have occurred near the Earth’s surface, the 1999 Bridge Creek- Moore tornado devastated towns just outside of Oklahoma City with its 38 mile path. It was on the ground for an astounding 85 minutes, destroying thousands of homes, killing 36 people, and leaving a billion dollars (non-normalized) in damage. It is ranked the fourth-costliest tornado on record, not accounting for inflation.

El Reno, Oklahoma, May 31, 2013
Radar images of the Moore tornado with a debris ball and signature hook echo.

The Widest Tornado

El Reno, Oklahoma, May 31, 2013
2.6 Miles Wide
Though this tornado was measured to have winds in excess of 296mph, it formed in a largely open area and did not impact many structures. The tornado was on the ground for about 16 miles and grew to a width of 2.6 miles before it weakened and dissipated.

Tornado Questions

How Do We Measure Tornadoes?

Today, we measure tornadoes using the “Enhanced Fujita Scale” which takes into account not only the wind speeds of the tornado, but also the damage that it causes. EF5 is the most powerful classification of tornado, with wind speeds of over 200mph.

What is “Tornado Alley”?

Tornado Alley is the section of the United States where Tornadoes are the most frequent: Texas, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Kansas, though tornadoes can and do occur almost anywhere in the United States.

Where is the Worst Place for Tornadoes?

The worst city for tornadoes is Oklahoma City, with 160 (and counting) recorded tornadoes since the 1890s. Here is the NOAA’s link to some interesting facts about Oklahoma City and it’s area’s sordid history with tornadoes.

Take Shelter from Tornadoes

Tornadoes are powerful and destructive. If a tornado warning is issued for your area, you must take shelter in a basement or interior room. Storm Shelters are the best option for protection from tornadoes, and FamilySAFE storm shelters are not only tested and certified to withstand the forces of an EF5 tornado, but have also withstood direct hits from several powerful EF5 tornadoes. Our storm shelters do what they were designed to do.

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