My top ten favorite tornadoes
Since spring is just a few days away, I want to make a list of my top ten favorite tornadoes. My favorite tornadoes range from the early 1900s to just last year. They range from weaker tornadoes to the strongest ever recorded. Their size, shape, strength, etc are all different. The one thing they have in common is that they are all my favorites. I'll start from number ten and work down. It has taken a little time sorting out which ones I like better. Honorable mentions are the Xenia, OH 1974 tornado(F5), the Tuscaloosa-Birmingham, AL 2011 tornado(EF4), the Grand Rapids 1956 tornado(F5), Jarrell, TX 1997 tornado(F5), and the Hesston, KS 1990 tornado(F5).
#10: Parkersburg, IA tornado; May 25, 2008
This EF5 tornado isn't remembered as much as some of the other EF5/F5 tornadoes. It was the second EF5 for the EF scale. This tornado destroyed the southern half of Parkersburg and then impacted parts of New Hartford. In all, 9 people died due to this tornado. Several security videos, like the one below, showed lots of destruction.
#9: El Dorado Lake, KS tornado; April 26, 1991
This tornado is the infamous highway overpass tornado. Several vehicles were destroyed with more damaged as a F2 tornado hit a Kansas highway overpass. Several people, including a television news crew, were taking shelter underneath the overpass. Luckily, no one was killed under that overpass or by the tornado in general. It is highly recommended that you do NOT take shelter under an overpass.
#8: Manchester, SD tornado; June 24, 2003
Here, a violent F4 tornado destroyed the small town of Manchester. No one died, but 4 people were injured. All of the buildings in Manchester were destroyed and they never were rebuilt. The town was abandoned after the tornado. Some researchers recorded the largest and fastest drop in pressure on record in this tornado.
#7: Bridge Creek/Moore, OK tornado; May 3, 1999
This tornado has the highest wind speed recorded by doppler radar, over 300mph. 41 people were killed, including 3 under highway overpasses. Oklahoma City, Bridge Creek, and Moore were among the cities that got heavily impacted. There was $1 billion dollars in 1999 dollars of damage done . There was a lot of destruction and it took a while to recover in some areas. Now they are "tornado ready".
#6: Andover, KS tornado; April 26, 1991
This tornado was the last F5 tornado to hit Kansas. The next F5/EF5 would be the EF5 tornado that hit Greensburg. The Andover tornado caused 17 deaths. The most famous parts of the tornado were in the McConnell Air Force Base and Golden Spur mobile home park. This tornado is very well know and studied by meteorologists. However, it is not my favorite tornado.
#5: Dexter, MI tornado; March 15, 2012
This EF3 was a very rare March tornado in MI. It was the earliest EF3 or stronger in Michigan history. 128 buildings were damaged or destroyed but luckily no lives were lost. This tornado happened during a rare March heatwave. This tornado did not occur too far away from me, only about ~40 miles. This video does have some foul language.
#4: Tri-state tornado; March 18, 1925
This is the longest tracked and deadliest tornado on record. There were 695 deaths from it and it was on the ground for 234 miles. Many towns were damaged or destroyed by the twister. Scientists question whether this was all one tornado, or if a series of tornadoes kept on merging together so that there were no breaks in the damage path. The Hesston and Gossel tornadoes show what might have happened. Since we weren't there to see it and it wasn't documented well, we may never know.
#3: Flint, MI tornado; June 9, 1953
Until the Joplin, MO tornado in 2011, this was the deadliest tornado in modern history(1950+). 116 deaths occurred due to this tornado. Damage was in the tens of millions of dollars. This was the first of the only two confirmed F5's in Michigan history, with a possible F5 in 1896 in Oakland county, MI.
#2: Joplin, MO tornado; May 22, 2011
This was the deadliest and costliest tornado in recent history. There were 158 deaths and $2.8 billion dollars in damage. Most of southern Joplin was destroyed including a hospital, schools, and industrial area. The lasting impact on this area is enormous.
#1: Fridley, MN tornado; July 18, 1986
This was not a usual tornado, which is why it is my favorite. The tornado went through the process called vortex breakdown. This can lead to multiple vorticies. A helical vortex surrounded the air that was getting pulled downward, instead of going up. It had a single suction vortex at the ground and strong inflow winds. The structure of this tornado has always fascinated me since I first watched Tornado Video Classics when I was a little kid. The perfect use of the environment and structure is a once in a lifetime event. Some structures were damaged/destroyed, but the tornado spent most of its time in the Springbrook Nature Center where it snapped tons of pine trees and "picked them up thousands of feet". It was the first tornado to be filmed by a TV news helicopter. It was rated an F2.
I'm currently writing my 2013 forecast blog, but I don't know if I'll be able to finish it tonight or over the next day or two.