So I’ve read a couple of stories in the past day about tornadoes that have ravaged Oklahoma this week and in 1999. I keep seeing reference to the 1999 tornado being the worst ever on the planet. This story says: “On May 3, 1999, a record-setting EF-5 tornado obliterated the city of 55,000 with winds measured at 318 mph, the highest ever on the earth’s surface.”
As I’m reading these claims, I’m immediately drawn to the words of Kip Dynamite when he said “Napoleon, like anyone could even know that.”
So how could any even know these are the highest wind speeds ever to occur on the earth’s surface? (I assume they’re referring to the wind speed.)
Two related things. I seem to recall an article awhile back where researchers thought it might even be possible for tornado winds to exceed the speed of sound :eek:
And I seem to recall that back in the depression? dustbowl? era there was a massive tornado. IIRC it was so wide that it still has the experts wondering how that was even possible and that it might even be a rare different class of tornado. Does that story ring a bell with anyone?
I recall reading about an historic tornado with a two-mile wide funnel which struck around that era, which seemed pretty incredible to me and may be the incident you’re referring to. However I believe more recent tornado’s have been measured with as large or even larger funnels (which still seems pretty incredible to me!)
No, highest measured wind speed is a real thing, and breaking the record was a big deal. They’ve been keeping records for well over 100 years and have measured a lot of big storms (hurricanes, cyclones, and tornadoes) and if a storm has the record is means something. Yes, there most likely have been higher winds somewhere, sometime, but the storm that produced the current record was a monster.
The tornado tonight near Oklahoma City may break the record. There are preliminary reports of 290 knot winds (333 mph) being indicated on radar.
ETA: I may have spoke too soon, I think that was a velocity couplet being measured, which means the wind moving toward the radar vs the wind moving away from it in a rotating tornado. They’re saying it may be a record breaker, but that’s not necessarily indicative of the highest wind.