Moore Tornado an EF-5; $2 Billion Damage Estimate: 3rd Costliest Tornado in History

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:22 PM GMT on May 22, 2013

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The Moore, Oklahoma tornado of May 20, 2013 is now ranked an EF-5, making it one of only 59 U.S. tornadoes to achieve that distinction since record keeping began in 1950. The National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma announced Tuesday that their damage survey teams found an area of EF-5 damage near Briarwood Elementary School, with winds of 200 - 210 mph indicated. There were no EF-5 tornadoes observed in 2012, and the last time the U.S. had an EF-5 was on May 24, 2011, when the Oklahoma towns of Calumet, El Reno, Piedmont, and Guthrie were hit by an EF-5 with 210+ mph winds that killed nine people. The maximum width of the 2013 Moore tornado's damage swath was a huge 1.3 miles. Detailed damage survey information in Google Earth Format provided by the Norman, OK NWS office shows that the typical width of the EF-0 and greater damage swath was about 0.6 miles, and the EF-4 damage area was about 0.1 miles across at its widest. EF-4 damage occurred along approximately 4 miles of the tornado's 17-mile long path. The damage swath from the May 20, 2013 tornado as it cut through the most densely built up portions of Moore was roughly 1.5 times as wide as the one from the May 3, 1999 EF-5 tornado. That tornado was the 4th costliest in history ($1.4 billion 2011 dollars), so it is a good bet that the 2013 Moore tornado will end up being even more expensive. This morning, the Oklahoma Insurance Department said the preliminary tornado damage estimate could top $2 billion. This would make the 2013 Moore tornado the 2nd most expensive tornado in history (as ranked by NOAA/SPC) or 3rd most expensive (as ranked by insurance broker Aon Benfield.) The nine billion-dollar tornadoes (2013 dollars) are:

1) Joplin, Missouri, May 22, 2011, $2.9 billion
2) Tuscaloosa, Alabama, April 27, 2011, $2.3 billion (not in SPC's list)
3) Moore, Oklahoma, May 20, 2013, $2 billion
4) Topeka, Kansas, June 8, 1966, $1.8 billion
5) Lubbock, Texas, May 11, 1970, $1.5 billion
6) Bridge Creek-Moore, Oklahoma, May 3, 1999, $1.4 billion
7) Hackleburg, Alabama, April 27, 2011, $1.3 billion (not in SPC's list)
8) Xenia, Ohio, April 3, 1974, $1.1 billion
9) Omaha, Nebraska, May 6, 1975, $1 billion


Figure 1. The Moore, Oklahoma tornado of May 20, 2013 (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)


Figure 2. The damage swath of the Moore, Oklahoma tornado of May 20, 2013. EF-4 damage (red colors) occurred along roughly 4 miles of the 17-mile path, and the EF-4 damage swath was up to 0.1 miles wide. The tornado's maximum width of 1.3 miles (EF-0 and greater damage) occurred over a relatively small portion of the path, before the storm reached Moore. Image credit: NWS Norman.


Figure 3. On May 20, 2013, a supercell thunderstorm in central Oklahoma spawned a destructive tornado that passed just south of Oklahoma City. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this natural-color image of the storm system at 2:40 p.m. Central Daylight Time (19:40 Universal Time), just minutes before the devastating twister began. The red line on the image depicts the tornado’s track. Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory.

There have been bigger tornadoes
The 1.3 mile maximum width of the 2013 Moore tornado's damage swath was not a record. Wikipedia documents that the EF-3 Edmonson, Texas tornado of May 31, 1968 had a damage path width between 2 and 3 miles (3.2 and 4.8 km) wide. The EF-4 Wilber - Hallam, Nebraska tornado on May 22, 2004 was of similar size, with a damage path up to 2.5 miles wide. Doppler radar measurements indicate that the May 4, 1999 Mulhall, Oklahoma EF-4 tornado--which thankfully passed mostly over farmland--would have caused damage over a path 4 miles wide at its peak size, had it encountered a built-up area. The EF-5 tornado that devastated Greensburg, Kansas on May 4, 2007 was 1.7 miles wide.


Figure 4. Damage swath of the Wilber - Hallam, Nebraska EF-4 tornado of May 22, 2004 was up to 2.5 miles wide, making it one of the largest tornadoes on record.


Figure 5. Severe weather outlook for Wednesday, May 22, calls for a "Slight Risk" of severe weather over portions of the Ohio Valley and Northeast U.S. You can follow today's severe weather from our Severe Weather page.

No tornadoes reported on Tuesday; "Slight Risk" of severe weather on Wednesday
The severe weather outbreak of May 18 - 22 peaked on Sunday and Monday. We did not record any tornadoes on Tuesday, though there were many reports of large hail and damaging winds, including three thunderstorms with wind gusts over 74 mph. Tuesday was the first day since May 14 that no tornadoes were recorded in the U.S. And after issuing four consecutive "Moderate Risk" outlooks for severe weather, NOAA's Storm Prediction Center (SPC) is going with only a "Slight Risk" for severe weather on Wednesday in the U.S., with the main severe weather action expected to affect portions of the Ohio Valley and Northeast U.S. The primary threat will be straight-line wind damage and large hail, though we can't rule out a few tornadoes. During the three-day period May 18 - May 20, 70 tornadoes (preliminary) were recorded by SPC.


Video 1. Charles Cook caught the birth of the May 20, 2013 tornado at Newcastle, OK. It moved from there to Moore where it caused catastrophic devastation.


Video 2. NOAA's GOES-East satellite collected this view of the storm system that spawned a deadly tornado over Moore, Oklahoma on May 20, 2013. The animation runs from 10:45 a.m. through 6:45 p.m., Central Daylight Time. Images courtesy NASA GOES Project Science: ‪http://goes.gsfc.nasa.gov/‬

The Norman, OK NWS office has an excellent page with detailed info on the Moore tornado.

I did a 10-minute Skype interview with democracynow.org on Tuesday morning, discussing the Moore tornado.

I greatly appreciate all the valuable links members of the WU community have posted here, and I have used many of them in my posts over the past day. Keep up the great work!

How to help
Portlight Strategies, an organization that supports disaster victims with disabilities, will be working with shelter operators and disability stakeholder organizations in Oklahoma to serve the needs of people with disabilities. Further information and how to offer additional support can be found on their website.

Donations can be made to American Red Cross disaster relief at redcross.org/weather or by texting WEATHER to 90999 to donate $10.

Donations can be made on The Salvation Army's website or by texting STORM to 80888 to donate $10. You can also call to make donations of other monetary amounts at (800) 725-2769.

Jeff Masters

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Hey grothar,stay safe up there :P

Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316
College of DuPage Meteorology
Severe Weather and Flash Flood Warnings
Note: This page will reload every 2 minutes. Warnings are listed with the most recent first.


Click on the station ID to bring up list of recent severe weather statements.

SVR T-STORM WARNING GREENVILLE-SPARTANBURG SC - KGSP 1159 AM EDT WED MAY 22 2013
SVR T-STORM WARNING BINGHAMTON NY - KBGM 1117 AM EDT WED MAY 22 2013

TORNADO WARNING NEW ORLEANS LA - KLIX 934 AM CDT WED MAY 22 2013

FLASH FLOOD WARNING NEW ORLEANS LA - KLIX 838 AM CDT WED MAY 22 2013
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128668
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128668
Riverside, California (Airport)
Updated: 8:53 AM PDT on May 22, 2013
Mostly Cloudy
66 °F
Mostly Cloudy
Humidity: 63%
Dew Point: 53 °F
Wind: Calm
Pressure: 29.80 in (Steady)
Visibility: 10.0 miles
UV: 2 out of 16
Pollen: 5.10 out of 12
Pollen Forecast new!
Clouds:
Mostly Cloudy 2100 ft
(Above Ground Level)
Elevation: 817 ft

Forecast 83 @Airport
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Stay safe, people in the big mitten...

Statement as of 12:23 PM EDT on May 22, 2013

... Significant weather advisory...

At 1218 PM... showers and thunderstorms were developing along and
south of a warm front from near Muskegon to Mount Pleasant. Movement
was north at around 25 mph.

In addition locally a half inch of rain could accompany the
heavier showers and storms. This could lead to urban and poor
drainage flooding.

While no funnel clouds or tornadoes have been reported at this
time... the meteorological conditions today support the rapid and
sudden development of funnel clouds and even brief weak
tornadoes... which may appear with little or no warning. These may
even occur from just rain showers... without a thunderstorm and
lightning in the vicinity.

If a funnel cloud or tornado is spotted... get inside a sturdy
structure immediately. Please report funnel clouds or tornadoes to
local law enforcement for relay to the National Weather Service.




Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316
Quoting MahFL:


A lot of people in Joplin were out at dinner and did not get the warnings or beleive the tornado was imminent. The tornado sirens go off a lot there and people had become complacent. Many people had nowhere good to hide.


I think time of day is not as significant as

a) higher wind speeds (250 mph) in Joplin
b) higher population density in Joplin

just my opinion.
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Hey JeffMasters, The alert for the forcasts on certain cities still say that Moore tornado was 2nd most expensive, not third. Just letting you know, in case if you was'nt already aware of it. :D
Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316
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Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316
Quoting ScottLincoln:

Study math and science as much as you can in high school. Read books on science topics. Improve your science vocabulary such that you can start to read some scientific journal papers. Develop critical thinking skills and practice trying to solve scientific problems with collected data.
Once you get to college, start early by volunteering or getting internships. Attend conferences. Make contacts and network as much as you can.


With many ++++++ for the critical thinking skills. Those, along with communication skills, seem to be lacking in a lot of the younger people I encounter, even the very bright ones.
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Quoting weathermanwannabe:


I glanced at that area over the Bahamas this am. Not noted on any models that I know of and the CMISS site is temporarily down at the moment so I don't know what the sheer levels or vort is at the moment over that region. Looks like a broad circulation trying to get going from your vis loop but you can also see some shearing going on the North side of this complex.
not really trusting sat image at the moment may be a little distortion going on because of imager problems goes 14 will take over soon as goes 13 gets a checkup hopefully not a checkout goes 13 has done well and had nice images o well
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Quoting Patrap:

It's time to dust off that family disaster plan, or in many cases, create one.

Keeping your family safe during a hurricane starts with proper planning. One in six Americans live along the eastern seaboard or the Gulf of Mexico, making hurricane preparation a must for many and their families.


10 days
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Quoting AETHOMAS:
Doctor Masters,

What does it take to become a meteorologist? I would love to become one myself, and you are one of my role models. What did you have to do to become one?

Thanks.

AETHOMAS
You might have a better chance of an answer if you email Dr M directly. And since there are at least half a dozen people on here who want to be, or are already training to be, meteorologists, you might ask for some input from them. I think it would be interesting (in between weather events, of course) to hear what jedkins and wxchaser and others are doing. Good luck.
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Only buoy in that region at Freeport. Winds gusting at 17 knots from the west but pressure steady at 30 millibars:

Station SPGF1
NDBC
Location: 26.704N 78.994W
Date: Wed, 22 May 2013 16:00:00 UTC

Winds: W (260°) at 15.0 kt gusting to 17.1 kt
Atmospheric Pressure: 30.00 in
Air Temperature: 72.3 F

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Quoting AETHOMAS:
Doctor Masters,

What does it take to become a meteorologist? I would love to become one myself, and you are one of my role models. What did you have to do to become one?

Thanks.

AETHOMAS

Study math and science as much as you can in high school. Read books on science topics. Improve your science vocabulary such that you can start to read some scientific journal papers. Develop critical thinking skills and practice trying to solve scientific problems with collected data.
Once you get to college, start early by volunteering or getting internships. Attend conferences. Make contacts and network as much as you can.
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Quoting Torito:


Thanks guys.

And why is some of the line missing, in the middle.
I have always wondered that...


"As of Feb 2008, no Secondary GOES X-ray satellite data is available. Some data dropouts will occur during satellite eclipses."

So, it sounds like some of the line is missing because humanity has decided to spend its money on something besides a secondary GOES X-ray satellite...
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49. oaww
5) Lubbock, Texas, May 11, 19780, $1.5 billion

please fix the year!
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Quoting Bluestorm5:
Reposting this because of new blog...

So... y'all remembered that Moore tornado was first reported as 2-mile wide tornado on news, right? That was because meteorologists tracking the storm said the debris ball on radar was 2 to 2.5 miles wide. Tornado end up being 1.3 mile wide (still a wide tornado). The reason for the debris ball being so wide on radar is that there were many debris flying around the main tornado rotation, making it look so wide on radar.

Also, I saw a comment that someone claimed that Moore tornado is the widest on record. Actually the truth is... Moore tornado is only half as wide as the widest tornado ever which came on this date 9 years ago today. On May 22, 2004, a tornado was born out an outbreak in Nebraska. F4 tornado then hit the town of Hallam, Nebraska around 8 pm at night. Tornado was at the widest point over Hallam at 2.5 miles wide.



Another famous wide tornado is EF5 that hit Greensburg, Kansas. That tornado was so wide that it was wider than the town itself and the whole town was destroyed. That tornado was 1.7 mile wide.

Doppler measurements of the Mulhall, OK, tornado also put it near the top, but I think it didn't have structures to hit, so the actual surveyed damage path was narrower.

Path widths and tornado classifications during realtime events are notoriously exaggerated. Most of the time it was on the ground in Moore, the damage path was ~1mi or less in width, from the preliminary survey. This is just a little larger than the radar's peak-to-peak width, which I seem to recall was ~2/3mi wide. The "2 mi wide" reports from chasers and the media didn't seem to make sense at the time when combined with other data sources.
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Quoting yonzabam:
The Moore tornado seems to have been almost as destructive to property as the Joplin tornado, yet casualties were far less. The Joplin tornado killed 162 people. Seems odd.


A lot of people in Joplin were out at dinner and did not get the warnings or beleive the tornado was imminent. The tornado sirens go off a lot there and people had become complacent. Many people had nowhere good to hide.
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Jeff Masters,
Thanks very much for your outstanding coverage of the recent tornado events in Oklahoma.

[Insert moment for the Joplin anniversary.]

Many thanks to those who will be arriving soon from Joplin, MO to help Moore, OK deal with the aftermath of Monday's tornado.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
lost in the old blog



interesting feature off shore se coast


I glanced at that area over the Bahamas this am. Not noted on any models that I know of and the CMISS site is temporarily down at the moment so I don't know what the sheer levels or vort is at the moment over that region. Looks like a broad circulation trying to get going from your vis loop but you can also see some shearing going on the North side of this complex.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316

Severe Thunderstorm WarningStatement as of 12:07 AM EDT on May 22, 2013
The National Weather Service in Greenville-Spartanburg has issued a

* Severe Thunderstorm Warning for...
Buncombe County in western North Carolina...
northwestern Henderson County in western North Carolina...

* until 100 PM EDT


* at 12:04 am EDT... National Weather Service Doppler radar indicated a
severe thunderstorm capable of producing quarter size hail... and
damaging winds in excess of 60 mph. This storm was located near
Avery Creek... or 8 miles south of downtown Asheville... and moving
northeast at 10 mph.

* The severe thunderstorm will impact locations near...
Biltmore Forest.
Asheville.


Precautionary/preparedness actions...

Brief damaging winds will blow down trees and power lines over small
areas. A brief period of large hail is also possible. Seek shelter
inside an interior room.

Please report damaging winds... hail... or flooding to the National
Weather Service Greenville Spartanburg by calling toll free... 1...
800... 2 6 7... 8 1 0 1... or by posting on our facebook Page... or tweet
it using hashtag nwsgsp. Your message should describe the event and
specific location where it occurred.


Lat... Lon 3552 8234 3536 8267 3543 8276 3552 8278
3570 8245
time... Mot... loc 1558z 238deg 9kt 3550 8257

Lgl





Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316
Quoting RitaEvac:


Most people were at work or school, Joplin tornado was around dinner time at 6PM


Moore is one of the most prepared towns in the country. Even the May 3 1999 monster killed far fewer than the Joplin tornado.

Exceptionally prepared, the folks here are never caught unawares.
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Quoting MrMixon:




Here ya go. Click the image to visit source site.
Quoting Luisport:
Link


Thanks guys.

And why is some of the line missing, in the middle.
I have always wondered that...
Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316
Hurricane Preparation 2013




It's time to dust off that family disaster plan, or in many cases, create one.

Keeping your family safe during a hurricane starts with proper planning. One in six Americans live along the eastern seaboard or the Gulf of Mexico, making hurricane preparation a must for many and their families.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128668
Doctor Masters,

What does it take to become a meteorologist? I would love to become one myself, and you are one of my role models. What did you have to do to become one?

Thanks.

AETHOMAS
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Quoting Torito:


Can you link that, it wont show up.
Link
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Quoting Torito:


Can you link that, it wont show up.




Here ya go. Click the image to visit source site.
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Quoting Luisport:


Can you link that, it wont show up.
Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316
Quoting Torito:


Radiation from the sun gives us cancer, not food.

xD
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the last solar flare i was in made the radio all screwey. xD
Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316
lost in the old blog



interesting feature off shore se coast
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Severe thunderstorm warning extended, as the storm is kinda hanging out at the same place right now.
Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316
Quoting EricSpittle:

Looks to be one headed right near me, the one labelled E1. If it keeps current size and track it'll hit just north of where I am (right near the intersection of rt-17/86 and rt 26 in Vestal, NY).


Lets see if it alters the weather in any way. :P
Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316
Quoting yonzabam:
The Moore tornado seems to have been almost as destructive to property as the Joplin tornado, yet casualties were far less. The Joplin tornado killed 162 people. Seems odd.


From what I've read, wind speeds were higher in the Joplin tornado, on the order of 250 mph, versus 210-220 for Moore.
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Thank You Dr. Great section there on past tornadoes with larger damage swaths. Seems to me from a cursory review of these stats that the wider/bigger tornadoes tend to rise above EF-3.......They might start with a weaker rope then blossom into monsters during their short life-span. Would be curious (if anyone knows) if there have been many small diameter tornadoes (1/2 mile or less) that have also been able to achieve above EF-3 status.........Just curious. Thanks.
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28. JeffMasters (Admin)
Quoting CybrTeddy:
Dr. Masters, what about the 2011 Tuscaloosa tornado? That caused $2.2 billion in damages.


Good point, SPC seems to have overlooked that one. I will add it in.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Tuscaloosa_%E2%8 0%93_Birmingham_tornado

Jeff Masters
Quoting Torito:

Looks to be one headed right near me, the one labelled E1. If it keeps current size and track it'll hit just north of where I am (right near the intersection of rt-17/86 and rt 26 in Vestal, NY).
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Quoting Luisport:
and just look this proton spike!


Radiation from the sun gives us cancer, not food.

xD
Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316


HRRR Forecast Radar Composite for 3PM EDT.

Note the stronger storms east of Birmingham,AL.

Also with nice onshore flow at 925mb all the way to the Carolinas seabreeze boundary convection is also noted all along the SEUS coast.
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Quoting RitaEvac:


Most people were at work or school, Joplin tornado was around dinner time at 6PM


Okay, thanks.
Member Since: July 20, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2931
and just look this proton spike!
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Thanks Doc.
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21418
Quoting Luisport:
Link M7.3 Flare


Thanks for the link. That's a pretty awesome animation of the flare*:



*Looking more closely at the dates (which go into the future) I'm guessing this is actually from a model predicting the estimated path and influence of the flare, non?
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This shows how fast the Moore storm and others developed. From CIMMS Sat Blog..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 21418
Member Since: April 30, 2013 Posts: 5 Comments: 4316
Quoting yonzabam:
The Moore tornado seems to have been almost as destructive to property as the Joplin tornado, yet casualties were far less. The Joplin tornado killed 162 people. Seems odd.


Most people were at work or school, Joplin tornado was around dinner time at 6PM
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9630

www.solarham.net

A strong solar flare measuring M7.3 was observed on Wednesday morning. The eruption was centered around Sunspot 1745.


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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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