EF5: The Most Violent Tornadoes - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

EF5: The Most Violent Tornadoes

An EF5 tornado is the most violent tornado possible. 

With winds greater than 200mph, strong frame houses are leveled off foundations and swept away.  Automobile-sized missiles fly through the air in excess of 100 yards.  Incredible phenomena can and does happen.

It's a worse case scenario. 

The huge tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma, today has been given a preliminary rating of at least EF4, or the second highest level with winds up to 200mph. 

The huge tornado that struck the town of Moore, Oklahoma, on Monday was given a preliminary rating of at least EF4, or the second highest strength level, with winds of up to 200 miles per hour, a U.S. government agency said.

Roughly, there have been 64 EF5 tornadoes in the U.S. since 1950.  This provides a long-term average of roughly one per year.

Eighteen states have experienced an EF5 tornado... as far east as Ohio and as far north as North Dakota.  Alabama leads the way though with seven "5-rated" tornadoes.  Alabama is followed by Oklahoma, Texas, Iowa and Kansas.

There were six EF5 tornadoes in 2011, the most "five-rate" tornadoes in any year since the outbreak of 1974. 

Only 1% of all tornadoes are 'violent' tornadoes, rated EF4 or EF5. 

The large majority of tornadoes are classified as weak. 

Can you survive an EF4 or EF5?  Experts say you need to be underground in most cases.

And another question when it comes to label a tornado?  Truth is, scientists don't often get any measurements of wind speed from inside tornadoes.  Most weather instruments wouldn't survive the tornadoes with the strongest wind speeds.

Tornado experts base their wind-speed estimates on the damage caused by the tornado.  An EF5 tornado signifies total destruction for most structures in its path. 

path.  An EF0 would cause only the slightest superficial damage to a well-built home.

The EF-ratings are tied to the Enhanced Fujita scale, which estimates maximum wind speeds in these categories:

  • EF0 = 65-85 mph
  • EF1 = 86-110 mph
  • EF2 = 111-135 mph
  • EF3 = 136-165 mph
  • EF4 = 166-200 mph
  • EF5 = 200 mph and higher

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