From a day in May, fourteen years ago:
This tornado’s remarkable wind speed (at the high extreme of the Fujita Scale’s F5) led to much speculation that the scale would be modified to include an F6 category, due to the winds possibly exceeding 318 mph (512 km/h). This speculation ignored the fact that the Fujita scale measures damage rather than windspeed, since the scale was developed prior to the introduction of Doppler weather radar. Windspeed estimates associated with the different categories represent the speeds scientists believe are required to produce that damage rather than the windspeed in that particular storm. The damage caused by an F5-designated tornado leaves very little room for a higher category.
The Fujita scale has since been enhanced, and there’s no EF6. Maybe there should be. What I said about that earlier storm:
[T]he worst managed to stay to my south and west, though not very far. At its peak, the funnel was nearly a mile wide, and its easternmost flank ventured to within half a mile of this desk.
I have since moved about fifteen miles west. And they’re saying that today’s Cone of Destruction at some point was so wide that you might not recognize it as a tornado, were it coming right at you.
And if that earlier storm really was packing “the highest winds ever recorded near the earth’s surface” — what the hell did we just see?
Welcome to Tornado Alley. Please have exact change. And you will be changed. Count on it.
Update: NWS compares the track of the two storms.