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Which tornado do you think deserved an EF-5 rating? (3 Viewers)


pohnpei

Member
Messages
134
Location
shanghai
The Westminster, TX tornado of 2006 did incredible ground scouring and automobile damage, actually tearing out axles and engines in some cases, but somehow was slapped with an F3 rating:

View attachment 3292View attachment 3292View attachment 3294
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This link has some photos of the car damage: http://www.stormchaser.ca/Tornadoes/2006_05_19_Westminster/2006_05_19_Westminster.html
This tornado was certainly way way above F3 level.
 

buckeye05

Member
Messages
562
Location
Riverside, Ohio
Controversial opinion: The high-end EF4 rating for Tuscaloosa/Birmingham was perfectly appropriate. I am unable to find any evidence of clear-cut EF5 structural damage along the path, and I’ve dug through many, many pictures. Every time someone says they have evidence, it’s a picture of a CMU foundation home swept away, of a house that was removed from its wooden subflooring, or of metal warehouse structures that lacked interior walls swept away. None of this qualifies as EF5 damage. I’ll maintain this opinion unless somebody is able to show me damage that actually meets the EF5 criteria. So far, nobody has been able to show me any such images.

I think the assumption of EF5 rating comes from the visual appearance of the tornado, the scope of the damage, and the death toll.
 

buckeye05

Member
Messages
562
Location
Riverside, Ohio
This tornado was certainly way way above F3 level.
This rating was applied at the absolute height of “La Plata Syndrome”. Surveyors during this time were afraid to apply ANY ratings higher than F3, even when the damage was clearly violent. The EF scale was implemented the following year, resulting in a bit of a “reset”.
 
Messages
271
Location
Missouri
Controversial opinion: The high-end EF4 rating for Tuscaloosa/Birmingham was perfectly appropriate. I am unable to find any evidence of clear-cut EF5 structural damage along the path, and I’ve dug through many, many pictures. Every time someone says they have evidence, it’s a picture of a CMU foundation home swept away, of a house that was removed from its wooden subflooring, or of metal warehouse structures that lacked interior walls swept away. None of this qualifies as EF5 damage. I’ll maintain this opinion unless somebody is able to show me damage that actually meets the EF5 criteria. So far, nobody has been able to show me any such images.

I think the assumption of EF5 rating comes from the visual appearance of the tornado, the scope of the damage, and the death toll.
There's no doubt in my mind that if Tuscaloosa had occurred by itself instead of being one of many tornadoes in a large outbreak it would have received the EF5 rating. I do think it achieved EF5 intensity but in between Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, although I'm not sure if it hit any DI capable of registering as EF5. That said, two things of note:

1. It ripped a still-used steel railroad bridge to pieces, throwing and rotating one 34-ton truss tower 100 ft. uphill.
bridge.JPG

2. It encountered a coal yard depot & knocked over 29 of the 31 cars and lofted one of the 35.8-ton cars 400 ft.

tuscaloosa-tornado-f5-damage.png

Not sure if these quality as EF5 Di's but at least they agreed on high-end EF4.
 
Messages
346
Location
Lenexa, KS
The Westminster, TX tornado of 2006 did incredible ground scouring and automobile damage, actually tearing out axles and engines in some cases, but somehow was slapped with an F3 rating:

View attachment 3292View attachment 3292View attachment 3294
View attachment 3295
View attachment 3296
View attachment 3297


This link has some photos of the car damage: http://www.stormchaser.ca/Tornadoes/2006_05_19_Westminster/2006_05_19_Westminster.html
That looks like at least high-end F4 damage maybe F5 damage depending on the construction. That is some incredible ground scouring as well.
 

buckeye05

Member
Messages
562
Location
Riverside, Ohio
There's no doubt in my mind that if Tuscaloosa had occurred by itself instead of being one of many tornadoes in a large outbreak it would have received the EF5 rating. I do think it achieved EF5 intensity but in between Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, although I'm not sure if it hit any DI capable of registering as EF5. That said, two things of note:

1. It ripped a still-used steel railroad bridge to pieces, throwing and rotating one 34-ton truss tower 100 ft. uphill.
View attachment 3303

2. It encountered a coal yard depot & knocked over 29 of the 31 cars and lofted one of the 35.8-ton cars 400 ft.

View attachment 3304

Not sure if these quality as EF5 Di's but at least they agreed on high-end EF4.
Oh I definitely agree that it WAS and EF5, but I’m saying is that there wasn’t any structural damage to prove it. These two incidents of damage were quite impressive, but not enough to base an EF5 rating on imo.
 
Messages
346
Location
Lenexa, KS
Locomusic gave this write-up of the 1999 Loyal Valley tx tornado

"
other frequently overlooked aspect to this story is that, while the evolution of the small-scale features (what I like to call a "mesoscale accident") is extremely rare and unusual, the same basic scenario has played out several other times. The most directly comparable tornado, to me, is an almost entirely unknown event that occurred on May 11, 1999. The synoptic setup for that day in Texas wasn't especially impressive, but there was tremendous instability. Another one of those mesoscale accidents led to the explosive development of a supercell over the Hill Country, which quickly took on a very deviant SE-SSE motion and just drifted along very slowly.

The tornado touched down in Mason County, near the Llano River a few miles northwest of Loyal Valley. It tore through a very rural area, traveling just seven miles over its 30-35 minute lifespan. It produced significant ground scouring over much of its path, leading one observer to remark that it looked as if the tornado had "dragged itself" across the landscape, digging up the earth as it went. There were only a couple of homes in its path and none of them directly in the core of the most intense damage (thankfully), but it completely destroyed what it did hit and was officially rated F4.

A new truck at one home was torn apart and thrown three-quarters of a mile, and hundreds of head of cattle and various horses, deer, and other animals were killed and badly mutilated. Mesquite trees - which are well-known for their ruggedness - were totally debarked and denuded, and in some cases torn out of the ground and thrown hundreds of yards. That's especially impressive because mesquite trees tend to have strong, deep root systems. Unfortunately the only photos I was able to find so far come from the May 1999 Storm Data.

Here's one of the many mesquite trees debarked and denuded. You can see lots of others in the background.


This is obviously the cover of that issue. You can see more tree damage and scouring in the background.


This is what's left of the home in which the tornado's only fatality occurred. A family of six sought shelter by driving their car into the garage (variously reported as being built from either stone or concrete); the home and garage were demolished and at least partially swept away, and the 74-year-old grandfather was killed when a 2x4 penetrated the car and impaled him. The others miraculously survived with relatively minor injuries.


And here's the hood of the truck I mentioned earlier which was thrown from near the home.


In the same general area, the tornado, which was a three-quarter mile wide multivortex wedge, scoured away more than 700 feet of asphalt from Ranch Rd 152, throwing chunks of it over a thousand yards. Here's what an Air Force meteorologist, who'd surveyed Jarrell two years earlier, had to say about the Loyal Valley tornado.

"Hecke said Tuesday night's tornado likely was an 'F-5' grade - the severest category, marked by winds of more than 260 miles an hour. 'The two homes that were destroyed, the foundations were gone. Trees were stripped of their bark, and 150 to 175 feet of pavement was stripped away' - which occurs only when windspeeds reach F-5 level."

And a TV reporter who'd also witnessed Jarrell said this.

"'I hadn't seen anything like that. I couldn't believe what it did to animals,' said Flores, who also witnessed the destruction at Jarrell. 'The subdivision in Jarrell that was hit by the tornado was wiped clean. This was wiped clean, too, but the cattle - their hides had been ripped right off of them. Some of them were missing heads, and some were caught up and entwined in barbed wire.'

'There was absolutely nothing left of it [the new pickup truck]. It looked like it had been blown up by a bomb or something. Two dead cows were lying at the foot of it ... their skin was gone. They were pink and purplish. No skin. It took the skin right off.'"
Was it the NWS in Fort Worth that rated the above two tornadoes? The first one looks like at least high-end F4 and the second tornado looks like F5.
 
Messages
346
Location
Lenexa, KS
Oh I definitely agree that it WAS and EF5, but I’m saying is that there wasn’t any structural damage to prove it. These two incidents of damage were quite impressive, but not enough to base an EF5 rating on imo.
Kind of like the recent Bassfield/Soso, Mississippi high-end EF4 tornado. Had it of hit more urbanized areas it would have also received an EF5 rating. The Tuscaloosa/Birmingham, ALand the Bassfield/Soso, MS tornado seem to be on about the same page as far as their intensity goes.
 
Messages
346
Location
Lenexa, KS
This rating was applied at the absolute height of “La Plata Syndrome”. Surveyors during this time were afraid to apply ANY ratings higher than F3, even when the damage was clearly violent. The EF scale was implemented the following year, resulting in a bit of a “reset”.
Well there was one tornado in 2005 that was rated F4 and two were rated F4 in 2006. I believe they were Madisonville, KY, Monroe City, MO, and Crosstown, MO. That Westminister, TX in above photos was definitely stronger then the three I mentioned. There was also a couple other tornadoes in April of 2006 that should have been rated F4 as well. MEG did those surveys.
 

buckeye05

Member
Messages
562
Location
Riverside, Ohio
Well there was one tornado in 2005 that was rated F4 and two were rated F4 in 2006. I believe they were Madisonville, KY, Monroe City, MO, and Crosstown, MO. That Westminister, TX in above photos was definitely stronger then the three I mentioned. There was also a couple other tornadoes in April of 2006 that should have been rated F4 as well. MEG did those surveys.
What's amazing is that even back then, you can see the bias/inconsistency among the different WFOs. The only F4 rated tornadoes from that time period were rated by the Paducah and St. Louis offices, who are still among the most liberal when it comes to ratings. However, those April 2006 F3s were rated as such by the Memphis office, who STILL constantly lowball their ratings even today. This bias should not be observable and shows that these problems still persist.

While we're on the topic, the Little Rock, AR, Nashville, TN, and Springfield, MO also lowball their ratings frequently. Springfield is probably the worst of the bunch. Louisville, KY and Dallas, TX also play it too conservative at times as well, but not quite as consistently as the others.
 
Last edited:
Messages
346
Location
Lenexa, KS
What's amazing is that even back then, you can see the bias/inconsistency among the different WFOs. The only F4 rated tornadoes from that time period were rated by the Paducah and St. Louis offices, who are still among the most liberal when it comes to ratings. However, those April 2006 F3s were rated as such by the Memphis office, who STILL constantly lowball their ratings even today. This bias should not be observable and shows that these problems still persist.
Yeah, La Plata happened on April 28, 2002. There were 19 tornadoes that rated F4 between La Plata and the first tornado rated EF4 on the EF-scale in Lynn County, Kansas. There were 5 F4's in 2002 with three of them happening after La Plata in 2002. There were 8 F4's in 2003, 5 in 2004, 1 in 2005, and 2 in 2006. There were no tornadoes rated EF4 in the US in 2018 and I have a very hard time believing that. However there was the Alonsa, MB tornado that was rated EF4 in 2018.
 
Messages
271
Location
Missouri
This rating was applied at the absolute height of “La Plata Syndrome”. Surveyors during this time were afraid to apply ANY ratings higher than F3, even when the damage was clearly violent. The EF scale was implemented the following year, resulting in a bit of a “reset”.
What exactly was the whole La Plata controversy?
 

buckeye05

Member
Messages
562
Location
Riverside, Ohio
Several years prior in 2002, a tornado in La Plata, Maryland that swept away some poorly-anchored homes at low-end F4 strength was erroneously rated F5 by inexperienced NWS damage surveyors. They were publicly criticized and were forced to downgrade their rating after essentially being called out by experts. This ushered in several years of extreme, over-the-top conservatism in tornado ratings, as many surveyors were basically afraid of going higher than F3 at the risk of looking foolish.
 
Messages
346
Location
Lenexa, KS
What exactly was the whole La Plata controversy?
The La Plata, Maryland tornado was initially rated F5 because at least 6 homes were wiped clean from their foundations. However, other teams including Tim Marshall came to check out the damage and it was found that some of the homes rated F5 probably qualified for no more than an F2 or F3 rating. Some of the houses rated F5 had no attachments. So it became mostly necessary to get a QRT involved if tornadoes were going to be rated F4 or F5. QRT I believe means qualified response team. It gave fears to rating tornadoes higher than F3 because of the La Plata incident. The La Plata tornado ended up getting a final rating of F4 based on some damage found.
Beat me to it.
 

buckeye05

Member
Messages
562
Location
Riverside, Ohio
Yeah, La Plata happened on April 28, 2002. There were 19 tornadoes that rated F4 between La Plata and the first tornado rated EF4 on the EF-scale in Lynn County, Kansas. There were 5 F4's in 2002 with three of them happening after La Plata in 2002. There were 8 F4's in 2003, 5 in 2004, 1 in 2005, and 2 in 2006. There were no tornadoes rated EF4 in the US in 2018 and I have a very hard time believing that. However there was the Alonsa, MB tornado that was rated EF4 in 2018.
Yeah 2018 was weird. I believe that the Tescott, KS and Capitol, MT tornadoes were capable of producing EF4 damage. Not really any candidates besides those two though.
 
Messages
346
Location
Lenexa, KS
Yeah 2018 was weird. I believe that the Tescott, KS and Capitol, MT tornadoes were capable of producing EF4 damage. Not really any candidates besides those two though.
There was on tornado in South Dakota that tore a 15,000 lb tractor into pieces and scattered the debris 2 miles downwind and several vehicles disappeared from the property rated as low-endEF3. I am not sure how true this was about the vehicles but thought it was mentioned in a survey by one of the NWS offices.
 

buckeye05

Member
Messages
562
Location
Riverside, Ohio
There was on tornado in South Dakota that tore a 15,000 lb tractor into pieces and scattered the debris 2 miles downwind and several vehicles disappeared from the property rated as low-endEF3. I am not sure how true this was about the vehicles but thought it was mentioned in a survey by one of the NWS offices.
Yeah that was the Capitol, MT tornado I mentioned. It crossed the state line into SD.
 

pohnpei

Member
Messages
134
Location
shanghai
There was on tornado in South Dakota that tore a 15,000 lb tractor into pieces and scattered the debris 2 miles downwind and several vehicles disappeared from the property rated as low-endEF3. I am not sure how true this was about the vehicles but thought it was mentioned in a survey by one of the NWS offices.

vehicle damage can be found here.
 

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Messages
271
Location
Missouri
Oh I definitely agree that it WAS and EF5, but I’m saying is that there wasn’t any structural damage to prove it. These two incidents of damage were quite impressive, but not enough to base an EF5 rating on imo.
Out of curiosity, how would these two instances of damage not be considered worthy of an EF5 rating? I've never been on a damage survey, so I'm just curious as to the logic that goes into ratings like that. Are the offices that assign damage surveys in that region of the country just really conservative about ratings? Or is there so many variables it's just impossible to answer questions like mine? Not trying to be argumentative, honestly just curious about the whole process.
 

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