New data from a mobile Doppler radar unit has upgraded the El Reno tornado to an EF-5, the strongest rating possible.
The El Reno tornado was originally rated as an EF-3 tornado with winds up to 165 mph. Apparently, this was before the National Weather Service office in Norman, OK recieved data from OU RaxPol data, which recorded wind speeds up to 296 mph. See the original report here.
The National Severe Storms Laboratory reported that the 296 mph wind recorded was at 500 feet above the ground, so surface winds must have been somewhat slower due to friction.
- El Reno tornado track
Not only were winds that strong, but apparently it was also the widest tornado ever recorded at 2.6 miles wide. The old record for widest tornado was 2.5 miles in Nebraska in 2004 in an F4 tornado that struck Wilber-Hallam on May 22.
For comparison, the width of this tornado would stretch from the Lincoln Memorial past the U.S. Capitol Building to 4th St. NE/SE. Think about that the next time you are along the National Mall.
- RaxPol Data
Statement from NWS Norman on NWSChat:
METEOROLOGISTS WITH THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AND RESEARCHERS FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA CONTINUE TO INVESTIGATE INFORMATION RELATED TO THE MAY 31 EL RENO TORNADO.
WITH THIS INVESTIGATION... THE TORNADO HAS BEEN UPGRADED TO AN EF5 TORNADO BASED ON VELOCITY DATA FROM THE RESEARCH MOBILE RADAR DATA FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA RAXPOL RADAR.
IN ADDITION... THE WIDTH OF TORNADO WAS MEASURED BY THE MOBILE RADAR DATA TO BE 2.6 MILES AFTER THE TORNADO PASSED EAST OF US HIGHWAY 81 SOUTH OF EL RENO. THIS WIDTH IS THE WIDTH OF THE TORNADO ITSELF AND DOES NOT INCLUDE THE DAMAGING STRAIGHT-LINE WINDS NEAR THE TORNADO AS DETERMINED BY THE HIGH-RESOLUTION MOBILE RADAR DATA.
THE 2.6 MILE TORNADO PATH WIDTH IS BELIEVED TO BE THE WIDEST TORNADO ON RECORD IN THE UNITED STATES.
.EL RENO TORNADO
PATH LENGTH /STATUTE/: 16.2 MILES
PATH WIDTH /MAXIMUM/: 2.6 MILES
START DATE: MAY 31 2013
START TIME: 6:03 PM CDT
START LOCATION: 8.3 WSW OF EL RENO /CANADIAN COUNTY /OK
NEAR COURTNEY ROAD ABOUT 1 MILE NORTH