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May 18-21, 2013, tornado outbreak (Image 3)

The El Reno tornado that struck on May 31, 2013, in Oklahoma

The El Reno tornado that struck on May 31, 2013, in Oklahoma.

During the early evening of May 31, 2013, the widest tornado on record in the U.S.--according to radar analysis--occurred over rural areas of central Oklahoma. Part of a larger weather system that produced dozens of tornadoes over the preceding days, the tornado initially touched down at 6:03 p.m. central daylight time (CDT) (2303 UTC) about 8.3 miles (13.4 km) west-southwest of El Reno, Okla. The storm rapidly grew and became more violent. Remaining over mostly open terrain, the tornado did not impact many structures; however, measurements from mobile Doppler radars revealed extreme winds in excess of 295 mph (475 km/h) within the tornado. As it crossed Highway 81, it had grown to a record-breaking width of 2.6 miles (4.2 km). Turning northeastward, the tornado soon weakened. After crossing Interstate 40, the tornado dissipated around 6:43 p.m. CDT (2343 UTC), after tracking for 16.2 miles (26.1 km).

This image was taken by Roger M. Wakimoto while performing tornado research for the University of Colorado, Boulder. Wakimoto is the assistant director for the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Directorate for Geosciences.

You can read about NSF funding for tornado research in the Discovery story Long-term federal investments improve severe weather prediction. (Date of Image: May 2013) [Image 3 of 6 related images. See Image 4.]

Credit: Roger M. Wakimoto, University of Colorado
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