- Several days of severe weather left behind destruction from wind, rain, and tornadoes
- Oklahoma saw multiple rounds of severe weather throughout the month of May
- A tornado would become the widest recorded tornado
May 2013 - the month that had several rounds of severe weather within a two week period. Green Country saw tornadoes, damaging winds, hail, and even flooding rains. As the month was ending, another week was looking to bring more rounds of severe weather to the area.
Meteorologists talk about storms forming along a dry line and frontal boundaries - that is what happened here. Storms developed along these boundaries in central Oklahoma during the middle of the workweek then moved to the east, bringing with them strong, damaging winds and large hail.
Large amounts of rain fell from these storms, dropping over 1" of rain in some locations, with others receiving almost 5" (near Skiatook).
Flooding occurred along some of the larger creeks/rivers: Bird Creek, the Caney River, the Verdigris River, and the Neosho River.
Round two of severe weather started as the weekend inched closer. Not only did these storms pack a similar punch to the ones from May 29, but they possessed an added threat, tornadoes. These tornadoes developed and impacted areas such as Oilton, Mazie, Murphy, and Broken Arrow.
The Broken Arrow tornado moved through starting half a mile west of County Line Rd and north of New Orleans. It moved to the east, snapping trees, tearing apart buildings, damaging houses, all before moving into Wagoner County.
FOX23 was on scene as first responders were setting up and establishing a command post after the tornado moved through:
The Broken Arrow tornado would later be rated an EF-2 with winds up to 135 mph. The length of the tornado damage was 5.6 miles long and about 450 yards wide.
The tornado wasn't the only problem moving through the area. More rainfall. Some of these storms moved through the same areas as the day before, dropping up to 2" in some locations.
Day three arrived and so did another round of severe weather.
Thunderstorms once again started in central Oklahoma and moved their way towards eastern and northeastern portions of the state, bringing with them pounding rains, strong winds, and again, tornadoes.
Several storms produced tornadoes near Hulah, Pawhuska, Copan, Watova, and Grove.
The tornadoes weren't the only problems facing Green Country. A storm that had a formed and tracked for a long time, had a large amount of precipitation and moved into Green Country. This storm brought widespread flooding in the Oklahoma City area and had even produced a few tornadoes.
Once this storm arrived in Green Country, it was slow-moving, brought large amounts of rain, 3″ - 8″ of rain in Okfuskee and McIntosh Counties.
After three rounds of strong to severe storms in three days, Green Country received flooding rains, damaging winds, and ten tornadoes.
Four-day rainfall totals show just how isolated some of the heavy rainfall could be. From 0.86" in Porter to 1.58" in Westville, 7.26" in Nowata, and 7.73" in Okemah.
Northeast Oklahoma is not the only portion of Oklahoma that suffered from the severe weather. As previously mentioned, the storm that moved through and dropped large amounts of rain in Okfuskee and McIntosh counties had developed what would become the widest recorded tornado back in Central Oklahoma.
11 days after an EF-5 ripped through Moore, destroying a school, neighborhoods, and lives, another round of severe weather was expected to move through Central Oklahoma again.
The atmospheric ingredients were very similar to that of May 20, 2013; a nearly stationary front was draped diagonally across the state (southwest to northeast), with a dryline. Temperatures warmed up causing instability ahead of the dryline. Storms began along the point where the dryline and stationary front met, quickly becoming severe with some rotation.
The first tornado of the day formed in Kingfisher county but did very little damage. This was not the case for the second tornado.
The "El Reno Tornado" later became one of the most powerful tornadoes to be sampled by mobile radars from the University of Oklahoma and the Center for Severe Weather Research. This tornado would also become the widest known tornado to be recorded.
What made this tornado so "interesting" is not only how wide it was (2.6 miles), but how complex its path it. This particular tornado continued to rapidly change in speed and in direction of movement.
FOX23's Michael Seger was following this storm when he and his chase partners realized this storm was going to be a problem:
When the tornado started at 6:03 PM local time, it was moving to the southeast about 20-25 mph
6 minutes after (6:09 PM) the tornado formed, the tornado started to move to the east and picked up speed to 30-40 mph. The tornado developed two smaller tornadoes outside the main circulation, known as satellite tornadoes.
6:19 PM - the tornado changed directions again and picked up speed. Now moving to the north at 50 mph, the tornado was getting very large. As it approached Interstate 40, speed dropped drastically to less than 10 mph and the path made a loop around the interstate (as seen in the picture).
After the loop, the tornado started to move to the east again but dissipated in less than 10 minutes from the start of the eastward movement.
As seen in the image with the path of the tornado, most of the path was in fields. Monetary damages were estimated, but winds were measured by the mobile radars. One radar measured over 200 mph winds with another measuring 295 mph winds right above the surface.
Michael looked back on the time he spent following this storm when FOX23 air the FOX23 Severe Weather Special the following April:
This tornado was given an EF-3 rating due to the fact that most of the damage was in fields. The Enhanced Fujita scale is based on damage and winds are then estimated. At this time there is not a way to rate a tornado based on measured winds. It is all in the way that the rating system is written. If the ratings were based on measured winds, this tornado would have easily been given an EF-5 rating.
After all the damage surveys were done, the El Reno tornado was 2.6 miles wide, 16.2 miles long in damage path, and was on the ground for 40 minutes.
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