• Welcome to TalkWeather!
    We would love for you to become a part of our community.
    Take a moment to look around and join the discussion.
    CLICK HERE TO JOIN TALKWEATHER

Which tornado do you think deserved an EF-5 rating? (1 Viewer)


Shelby

Member
Messages
17
Location
Fayetteville, Arkansas
I love asking this question! I love hearing about possible EF-5 tornadoes and the damage indicators that might have been overlooked. Maybe a tornado that was struck an area so rural that an assessment was never properly undertaken.

My pick (I might be biased because I live in Arkansas) was the 2014 Vilonia, Ar tornado.

The majority of houses that were swept clean in EF-5 fashion were of sub-standard construction. This I accept but I feel there were other indicators that warranted an EF-5 rating.

1. Deep ground scouring throughout the path of the tornado.
2. Houses outside of Vilonia swept away that were overlooked that appeared to be of "superior construction".
3. Tim Marshall stating the damage was "lower bound".
4. A 25,000 pound object thrown over 3/4 of a mile.
5. Vechciles thrown long distances (over 1/2 a mile), One I believe was never recovered or so badly mangled it wasn't identified.
6. Extreme wind rowing of debris -- comparable to the worst I have ever seen. (Andover, Kansas -- pic included)
7. Very high fatality rate in a small area. The subdivision pictured had 9 fatalities. The tornado warning was very adequate to prepare. Keep in my mind this is a town with a history of violent tornadoes.

What is your pick?
 

Attachments

Messages
399
Location
Niagara Falls, Ontario
The Vilonia, Arkansas tornado probably takes the top spot, and I think you hit the nail on the head. If I recall correctly there was at least one house where the surveyors admitted that they were looking at EF5 damage, but didn't give the rating because they thought a rating couldn't be assigned based on the damage to just one house, which is obviously not true. I'd also add that official estimates say that the Vilonia tornado and the Louisville, MS tornado were close to the same strength (official wind estimates are 190 mph for Vilonia and 185 mph for Louisville), but the damage was very obviously more intense.

I think the Chapman, Kansas tornado deserves a mention, too. It was the only tornado known to have caused any significant bending of continuously welded railroad tracks (the Pawnee/Osage County, Oklahoma tornado on 4/26/91 apparently twisted one rail slightly, but nothing like what happened in Chapman). A Freightliner truck and a combine harvester were also tossed around 3/4 of a mile and wrapped together like balls of tissue paper, and a few trees were reduced to debarked trunks. I know there's been plenty of discussion about whether the rail damage was from the winds alone or from impact with a large object, but some of the vehicle and vegetation damage looked pretty much on par with the 2011 El Reno EF5. I'd say that even though the Vilonia tornado is the most glaringly underrated one, the Chapman tornado was probably stronger (just my two cents though).
 

Shelby

Member
Messages
17
Location
Fayetteville, Arkansas
The Vilonia, Arkansas tornado probably takes the top spot, and I think you hit the nail on the head. If I recall correctly there was at least one house where the surveyors admitted that they were looking at EF5 damage, but didn't give the rating because they thought a rating couldn't be assigned based on the damage to just one house, which is obviously not true. I'd also add that official estimates say that the Vilonia tornado and the Louisville, MS tornado were close to the same strength (official wind estimates are 190 mph for Vilonia and 185 mph for Louisville), but the damage was very obviously more intense.

I think the Chapman, Kansas tornado deserves a mention, too. It was the only tornado known to have caused any significant bending of continuously welded railroad tracks (the Pawnee/Osage County, Oklahoma tornado on 4/26/91 apparently twisted one rail slightly, but nothing like what happened in Chapman). A Freightliner truck and a combine harvester were also tossed around 3/4 of a mile and wrapped together like balls of tissue paper, and a few trees were reduced to debarked trunks. I know there's been plenty of discussion about whether the rail damage was from the winds alone or from impact with a large object, but some of the vehicle and vegetation damage looked pretty much on par with the 2011 El Reno EF5. I'd say that even though the Vilonia tornado is the most glaringly underrated one, the Chapman tornado was probably stronger (just my two cents though).
I have seen several videos of the Chapman, KS tornado. I haven't been able to find any damage photos or the railroad photos. The videos I have seen of the Chapman tornado were very intense. I remember one well known storm chaser repeatedly stating "That's an F5 tornado" and "this is what a F5 tornado looks like and sounds". I would like to review the tornado better.

Another tornado of mention is the May 12th, 2004 Harper, KS tornado.

Some interesting facts:
1. A lot like Jarrell, a small tornado that lifted and then formed into a 1/2 mile wide tornado.
2. Only struck one farmhouse that was bolted to the foundation. The farmhouse simply vanished.
3. Not a drop of debris from the house could be seen for miles.
4. Large pieces of heavy machinery were never found.
5. Five vehicles on the property were torn into scraps. The majority of the car parts were never found. Engine blocks were scattered and one was in the hole in the basement.
6. Severe ground scouring and complete debar king of trees. Some trees were torn from the ground, debarked and scattered.

Photos provided are from this link : http://www.okstorms.com/images/chases/2004-05-18/20040518_202843_ps.htm
 

Attachments

Lori

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Messages
703
Location
Pelham, AL
Special Affiliations
SKYWARN® Volunteer
I know size doesn’t matter when it comes to tornadoes but I still don’t understand how at some point, the 2013 El Reno tornado didn’t have damage somewhere that was EF-5 rating worthy.
 

Shelby

Member
Messages
17
Location
Fayetteville, Arkansas
I know size doesn’t matter when it comes to tornadoes but I still don’t understand how at some point, the 2013 El Reno tornado didn’t have damage somewhere that was EF-5 rating worthy.
Just my opinion. I think it reached maximum intensity in an area with few structures or no structures at all. Also the width of the tornado might play a role because what percentage of that tornado is producing ef5 winds? Most likely it is from intense subvortices within the tornado. I always wondered what percentage of ef5 tornadoes actually reach maximum intensity over a populated area.

The three that really stand out to me:

1. Jarrell
2. Smithville
3. Joplin

These three seemed to reach max intensity over a populated area and were "fairly" short lived.

Hard to say with Hackelburg when it reached max intensity because of the distance it covered.

What do you think?
 

ARCC

Member
Messages
382
Location
Coosa county
Just my opinion. I think it reached maximum intensity in an area with few structures or no structures at all. Also the width of the tornado might play a role because what percentage of that tornado is producing ef5 winds? Most likely it is from intense subvortices within the tornado. I always wondered what percentage of ef5 tornadoes actually reach maximum intensity over a populated area.

The three that really stand out to me:

1. Jarrell
2. Smithville
3. Joplin

These three seemed to reach max intensity over a populated area and were "fairly" short lived.

Hard to say with Hackelburg when it reached max intensity because of the distance it covered.

What do you think?
Its very hard to pinpoint a spot where the Hackleburg tornado hit peak intensity by looking at aerial pictures. It looks like it hit EF5 intensity three times, Hackleburg to Mt Hope, then near Moulton and then again near Tanner. With several continous miles of EF5 damage, its hard to pick one spot. That said probably Phil Cambell was peak due to the Crown Vic thrown a mile and the storm shelter roof torn off. But then again the two story brick house obiliterated and damage nearby makes a good case for Oak Grove.
 

Lori

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Messages
703
Location
Pelham, AL
Special Affiliations
SKYWARN® Volunteer
Just my opinion. I think it reached maximum intensity in an area with few structures or no structures at all. Also the width of the tornado might play a role because what percentage of that tornado is producing ef5 winds? Most likely it is from intense subvortices within the tornado. I always wondered what percentage of ef5 tornadoes actually reach maximum intensity over a populated area.

The three that really stand out to me:

1. Jarrell
2. Smithville
3. Joplin

These three seemed to reach max intensity over a populated area and were "fairly" short lived.

Hard to say with Hackelburg when it reached max intensity because of the distance it covered.

What do you think?

I’m fascinated by Jarrell but we’ll have to take it out of the equation because the Enhanced Fujita Scale wasn’t part of the criteria for surveys in 1997.
Which that’s another discussion as well... would it be an EF-5? Was it a monster or a slow mover or both?
 

Lori

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Messages
703
Location
Pelham, AL
Special Affiliations
SKYWARN® Volunteer
Its very hard to pinpoint a spot where the Hackleburg tornado hit peak intensity by looking at aerial pictures. It looks like it hit EF5 intensity three times, Hackleburg to Mt Hope, then near Moulton and then again near Tanner. With several continous miles of EF5 damage, its hard to pick one spot. That said probably Phil Cambell was peak due to the Crown Vic thrown a mile and the storm shelter roof torn off. But then again the two story brick house obiliterated and damage nearby makes a good case for Oak Grove.
I think Oak Grove was where they found the strongest of the EF-5 damage. It was fairly a rural area but the destruction of homes were slate clean as well as other factors.
 
Messages
399
Location
Niagara Falls, Ontario
I'm not sure how the Jarrell and Smithville tornadoes could be considered short-lived. The Jarrell tornado was on the ground for 47 minutes and the Smithville tornado was on the ground for 43 minutes. The Jarrell tornado at least also was at peak intensity for a fairly long time, which was a part of why it was so deadly.
 

warneagle

Member
Messages
1,566
Location
Silver Spring, MD
Special Affiliations
SKYWARN® Volunteer
I'm not sure how the Jarrell and Smithville tornadoes could be considered short-lived. The Jarrell tornado was on the ground for 47 minutes and the Smithville tornado was on the ground for 43 minutes. The Jarrell tornado at least also was at peak intensity for a fairly long time, which was a part of why it was so deadly.
It’s a bit odd to compare those two since the Smithville tornado had a forward speed of ~70 mph while Jarrell was moving at about 8 mph. Totally different scenarios in terms of how long damage indicators were exposed to the storms’ peak winds.
 
Messages
399
Location
Niagara Falls, Ontario
It’s a bit odd to compare those two since the Smithville tornado had a forward speed of ~70 mph while Jarrell was moving at about 8 mph. Totally different scenarios in terms of how long damage indicators were exposed to the storms’ peak winds.
I wasn't comparing them at all. Someone else said both of them were "fairly short lived". Sorry for the confusion.
 

Shelby

Member
Messages
17
Location
Fayetteville, Arkansas
I wasn't comparing them at all. Someone else said both of them were "fairly short lived". Sorry for the confusion.
I should have articulated better. That is my fault. What I meant to say was those three tornadoes had short lived ef5 damage when comparing to a tornado like Hackleburg that was on the ground 100+ and appeared to sustain EF4- EF5 strength through much of its path and hit multiple structures far distances apart. I think I recall Smithville weakened significantly after leaving the town. Jarrell hit double creek and really did not hit very structures after leaving double creek. I could be wrong through. That’s why we have these forums.
 

ARCC

Member
Messages
382
Location
Coosa county
I think Oak Grove was where they found the strongest of the EF-5 damage. It was fairly a rural area but the destruction of homes were slate clean as well as other factors.
Yeah, actual observed damage as far as the EF5 scale goes, absolutely.
 

Shelby

Member
Messages
17
Location
Fayetteville, Arkansas
I'm not sure how the Jarrell and Smithville tornadoes could be considered short-lived. The Jarrell tornado was on the ground for 47 minutes and the Smithville tornado was on the ground for 43 minutes. The Jarrell tornado at least also was at peak intensity for a fairly long time, which was a part of why it was so deadly.
Actually I think you misunderstood what I was saying.
I’m fascinated by Jarrell but we’ll have to take it out of the equation because the Enhanced Fujita Scale wasn’t part of the criteria for surveys in 1997.
Which that’s another discussion as well... would it be an EF-5? Was it a monster or a slow mover or both?
Here is my long drawn out unprofessional opinion on the Jarrell, Texas tornado.

I constantly hear the comment that the Jarrell, Texas tornado was a slow mover and the damage was caused by F3 strength winds. It is strewn all over the weather threads. Where did people get that assumption? The NIST report was a big factor in this belief.

What did the NIST report say?

1. NIST stated that they did a random close examination of A FEW foundations that had been swept away and found that they were essentially not of "superior construction".
2.NIST stated the scouring of asphalt was caused by differences between atmospheric pressure and pockets of air trapped underneath the asphalt and the lower atmospheric pressure at the CENTER of the tornado
3. There was no evidence of anchor bolts or steel straps on the few close inspected houses.
4. Final Conclusion: F3 winds could "flatten" most homes in Texas. Not sweep a foundation clean but flatten. Already a trangression IMO. Also fails to mention all plumbing and plumbing fixtures were removed. The report concluded winds causing the extreme destruction can be explained by an F3 rating. The rest of the report is basically slamming Fujita and his scientific credentials for his scale.

Some interested things stated in the NIST report about the Jarrell event that they overlooked in their own report:

1. From the air debris of the houses was so small and scattered that it was difficult to spot any debris whatsoever.
2. On close inspection the sills plates and nails used to connect the frame to the foundation were completely blown away.

Let's say the NIST report is correct what other indicators could one refrence to gauge whether the Jarrell, Texas tornado was a violent F5 tornado? I personally think it was one of the strongest ever. Maybe some anamolies from the tornado?

A. The zero percent survival rate in the core of the tornado. I believe there were 2 survivors on the western edge of the tornado that sustained F4 damage. In the core there were zero survivors. An entire family of 6 and family of 5 were killed in this zone. Along with 14 others. Name another tornado that had this occurrence?

B. Cattles lungs were pulled out and hides removed. As one witness stated "it took the hides right off of them".

C. Extreme pavement/asphalt removal; County road 305 had 500 yards removed, a north south road had over a MILE of pavement/asphalt removed on the northwestern edge of Jarrell, pavement was even removed on the very edge of the tornado. Perhaps from vortices rotating around the funnel.

D. Telephone poles and trees were snapped just above the ground or removed completely. This is an indicator of extremely fast wind acceleration and observed in only the most violent tornadoes.

E. Every bit of grass and vegetation was removed. The depth of scouring was 18-24 inches deep and throughout the entire path that was now a muddy pit.

F. Even in the rope stage (before the multi-vortex wedge) a corn field had been scoured to a depth of 18 inches.

G. Reported that twelve vehicles disappeared and were never found. There were also engine blocks in fields with rubber hoses still attached but no frames, tires or axles in sight.

H. The most extreme debris granulation ever surveyed. As one surveyor said "it's almost as if someone took a giant broom and just swept it away".

I. Complete removal of foundations or complete burial of foundations by mud. Often overlooked because of the pavement removal and deep scouring it was difficult to ascertain where a house might have been. Sorry for this very long response!
 
Last edited:

Shelby

Member
Messages
17
Location
Fayetteville, Arkansas
Actually I think you misunderstood what I was saying.


Here is my long drawn out unprofessional opinion on the Jarrell, Texas tornado.

I constantly hear the comment that the Jarrell, Texas tornado was a slow mover and the damage was caused by F3 strength winds. It is strewn all over the weather threads. Where did people get that assumption? The NIST report was a big factor in this belief.

What did the NIST report say?

1. NIST stated that they did a random close examination of A FEW foundations that had been swept away and found that they were essentially not of "superior construction".
2.NIST stated the scouring of asphalt was caused by differences between atmospheric pressure and pockets of air trapped underneath the asphalt and the lower atmospheric pressure at the CENTER of the tornado
3. There was no evidence of anchor bolts or steel straps on the few close inspected houses.
4. Final Conclusion: F3 winds could "flatten" most homes in Texas. Not sweep a foundation clean but flatten. Already a trangression IMO. Also fails to mention all plumbing and plumbing fixtures were removed. The report concluded winds causing the extreme destruction can be explained by an F3 rating. The rest of the report is basically slamming Fujita and his scientific credentials for his scale.

Some interested things stated in the NIST report about the Jarrell event that they overlooked in their own report:

1. From the air debris of the houses was so small and scattered that it was difficult to spot any debris whatsoever.
2. On close inspection the sills plates and nails used to connect the frame to the foundation were completely blown away.

Let's say the NIST report is correct what other indicators could one refrence to gauge whether the Jarrell, Texas tornado was a violent F5 tornado? I personally think it was one of the strongest ever. Maybe some anamolies from the tornado?

A. The zero percent survival rate in the core of the tornado. I believe there were 2 survivors on the western edge of the tornado that sustained F4 damage. In the core there were zero survivors. An entire family of 6 and family of 5 were killed in this zone. Along with 14 others. Name another tornado that had this occurrence?

B. Cattles lungs were pulled out and hides removed. As one witness stated "it took the hides right off of them".

C. Extreme pavement/asphalt removal; County road 305 had 500 yards removed, a north south road had over a MILE of pavement/asphalt removed on the northwestern edge of Jarrell, pavement was even removed on the very edge of the tornado. Perhaps from vortices rotating around the funnel.

D. Telephone poles and trees were snapped just above the ground or removed completely. This is an indicator of extremely fast wind acceleration and observed in only the most violent tornadoes.

E. Every bit of grass and vegetation was removed. The depth of scouring was 18-24 inches deep and throughout the entire path that was now a muddy pit.

F. Even in the rope stage (before the multi-vortex wedge) a corn field had been scoured to a depth of 18 inches.

G. Reported that twelve vehicles disappeared and were never found. There were also engine blocks in fields with rubber hoses still attached but no frames, tires or axles in sight.

H. The most extreme debris granulation ever surveyed. As one surveyor said "it's almost as if someone took a giant broom and just swept it away".

I. Complete removal of foundations or complete burial of foundations by mud. Often overlooked because of the pavement removal and deep scouring it was difficult to ascertain where a house might have been. Sorry for this very long response!
Jarrell damage photos
 

Attachments

Lori

Administrator
Staff member
Administrator
Moderator
Messages
703
Location
Pelham, AL
Special Affiliations
SKYWARN® Volunteer
Actually I think you misunderstood what I was saying.


Here is my long drawn out unprofessional opinion on the Jarrell, Texas tornado.

I constantly hear the comment that the Jarrell, Texas tornado was a slow mover and the damage was caused by F3 strength winds. It is strewn all over the weather threads. Where did people get that assumption? The NIST report was a big factor in this belief.

What did the NIST report say?

1. NIST stated that they did a random close examination of A FEW foundations that had been swept away and found that they were essentially not of "superior construction".
2.NIST stated the scouring of asphalt was caused by differences between atmospheric pressure and pockets of air trapped underneath the asphalt and the lower atmospheric pressure at the CENTER of the tornado
3. There was no evidence of anchor bolts or steel straps on the few close inspected houses.
4. Final Conclusion: F3 winds could "flatten" most homes in Texas. Not sweep a foundation clean but flatten. Already a trangression IMO. Also fails to mention all plumbing and plumbing fixtures were removed. The report concluded winds causing the extreme destruction can be explained by an F3 rating. The rest of the report is basically slamming Fujita and his scientific credentials for his scale.

Some interested things stated in the NIST report about the Jarrell event that they overlooked in their own report:

1. From the air debris of the houses was so small and scattered that it was difficult to spot any debris whatsoever.
2. On close inspection the sills plates and nails used to connect the frame to the foundation were completely blown away.

Let's say the NIST report is correct what other indicators could one refrence to gauge whether the Jarrell, Texas tornado was a violent F5 tornado? I personally think it was one of the strongest ever. Maybe some anamolies from the tornado?

A. The zero percent survival rate in the core of the tornado. I believe there were 2 survivors on the western edge of the tornado that sustained F4 damage. In the core there were zero survivors. An entire family of 6 and family of 5 were killed in this zone. Along with 14 others. Name another tornado that had this occurrence?

B. Cattles lungs were pulled out and hides removed. As one witness stated "it took the hides right off of them".

C. Extreme pavement/asphalt removal; County road 305 had 500 yards removed, a north south road had over a MILE of pavement/asphalt removed on the northwestern edge of Jarrell, pavement was even removed on the very edge of the tornado. Perhaps from vortices rotating around the funnel.

D. Telephone poles and trees were snapped just above the ground or removed completely. This is an indicator of extremely fast wind acceleration and observed in only the most violent tornadoes.

E. Every bit of grass and vegetation was removed. The depth of scouring was 18-24 inches deep and throughout the entire path that was now a muddy pit.

F. Even in the rope stage (before the multi-vortex wedge) a corn field had been scoured to a depth of 18 inches.

G. Reported that twelve vehicles disappeared and were never found. There were also engine blocks in fields with rubber hoses still attached but no frames, tires or axles in sight.

H. The most extreme debris granulation ever surveyed. As one surveyor said "it's almost as if someone took a giant broom and just swept it away".

I. Complete removal of foundations or complete burial of foundations by mud. Often overlooked because of the pavement removal and deep scouring it was difficult to ascertain where a house might have been. Sorry for this very long response!
Great post!!
Reading this, it sounds like this was a slow moving monster! That had to be terrifying to endure. I remember there was a family that had an underground shelter in their home and when the home was swept away, they feared drowning by the torrential rains that were flooding into the shelter.
We don’t want to begin to imagine what happened to human bodies after knowing what happened to the animals.
There were some remains of victims, never found!
Another interesting fact about this tornado was the low wind shear and extreme atmospheric instability of that day.
 

Kory

Member
Messages
3,455
Location
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Tuscaloosa tornado. There was some wicked damage as it was exiting city limits NE into Holt. Between Chastain Manor Apartments and the train trestle over Hurricane Creek, I think it achieved EF-5 strength. Absolutely mangled that train track and the train on it.
 

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Top