Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Final Tornado Rating Thoughts



I'm writing this shortly after 1PM Wednesday so I don't know the final rating of the devastating twister, but I wanted to shed some light on the significance if it gets rated EF4 or EF5.

On Monday, the National Weather Service said it was at least an EF3.  That opens up the possibility it was an EF4 or even EF5.  For perspective, it's important to know reliable tornado records only date back to about 1950.  Since then, EF4's have been noted several times in our state history.  There has NOT been an EF5 since 1950.  As a matter of fact, Arkansas is the ONLY state in the central United States not to have an EF5 since 1950.  Some of you might have heard about the "Sneed tornado".  This affected northern Jackson county in April of 1929.  It destroyed the community of Swifton among others.  A close examination of that damage through historical documentation revealed that was an F5 twister and the last one to hit the state.  In other words, it has been 85 years since the state has experienced a tornado of that magnitude.

Is it possible the tornado Sunday was an EF5?  I'm not ruling that out based on the damage I have seen.  I'm not an expert on tornado surveys, but the good people at the National Weather Service office in North Little Rock surely are.  They have spent the last couple days looking at the damage.  They will determine the strength of that tornado based upon the damage.  This is obviously not an easy process since they have to know how well the structures were built.  Also, after the press conference today, their survey work is far from over.  Remember, the tornado continued on into White county.  How strong was it there and did it ever lift off the ground and touch down again?  We'll have answers in the coming days.

To read more about the "Sneed tornado", CLICK HERE.

EF4 Tornadoes since 1950 in Arkansas.
There has NOT been any EF5's in Arkansas since 1950, but look how close some have come.  Every state in the central U.S has had one, but us.  Not listed here is the Joplin, MO EF5 a few years ago.
Here's another look at EF5 tornado locations since 1950.

1 comment:

jimmylee42 said...

Todd-Thanks for the stats provided by the NWS. Surely the Arkansas/Tenn outbreak of March 21-22 1952 would have one of those EF4's listed on your map here. That outbreak killed over 200 people, with Judsonia hard hit. I was 9 years old when we drove through Judsonia on the way to family for vacation in June that year. First time to see such destruction.