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Deadly Okla. tornado widest on record, rare EF5

1:12 PM, Jun 4, 2013   |    comments
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The National Weather Service reported Tuesday that the killer tornado that struck near Oklahoma City last Friday was a ferocious EF5 twister, which had winds that neared 295 mph.

An EF5 tornado, the highest number on the "Enhanced Fujita Scale of Tornado Intensity," has wind speeds that are 200 mph or higher.

The weather service also says the twister's 2.6-mile width is the widest ever recorded. According to the National Severe Storm Laboratory, the tornado blew up from one mile to 2.6 miles wide in a 30-second span.

The tornado, which carved a path 16.2 miles long near El Reno, Okla., surpasses a 2.5-mile wide F4 tornado that hit Hallam, Neb., in 2004.

The weather service has originally rated the tornado as an EF3. But the agency upgraded the ranking Tuesday after surveying damage and reviewing measurements from a portable Doppler on Wheels vehicle. Eighteen people were killed in the tornado and flooding in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.

There have only been eight F5/EF-5 tornadoes in Oklahoma since 1950, the Weather Underground reports, and two of them have hit in the past two weeks. The other hit Moore on May 20, killing 24 people.

USA TODAY

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