Widest tornadoes in the US versus the Valley

(WHSV) — As you may expect, tornadoes in the Great Plains are much wider than in the Valley, but how much of a contrast is there? Let’s take a look at the differences.

WIDEST TORNADOES IN US HISTORY:
#5 PARDEEVILLE/CAMBIRA, WI – JUNE 7, 2008
An EF-2 tornado with estimated winds of 120 mph touched down near Pardeeville, Wisconsin and lifted near Cambira, Wisconsin. Even though the tornado was only an EF-2, it was 2 miles wide. Pardeeville and Cambira are located north of Madison.

#4 GREENSBURG, KS – MAY 4, 2007
An EF-3 tornado that was 2.2 miles wide at one point went near Greensburg, Kansas in 2007. Ironically, this is not the famous EF-5 tornado that destroyed 95 percent of the town but the one that followed just after it that same day.

#3 SEMINARY, MS – APRIL 12, 2020
Part of the Easter 2020 outbreak in the Deep South this tornado was an EF-4 and was responsible for 8 deaths. This was located in southern Mississippi, northwest of Hattiesburg.

#2 HALLAM, NE – MAY 22, 2004
Hallam, Nebraska is home to the second widest tornado in US history. This F4 tornado was 2.5 miles wide. It killed one person and injured 38 more. Hallam is located south of Lincoln, Nebraska.

#1 EL RENO, OK – MAY 31. 2013
El Reno, Oklahoma has the widest tornado ever recorded by the US. A 2.6 mile wide EF-3 tornado touched down and caused $35-40 million dollars in damage and killed four storm chasers. El Reno is located along I-40, west of Oklahoma City.

Tornadoes in the Shenandoah Valley come no where close to anything other areas of the US have seen. The widest tornado that the Shenandoah Valley has seen was less than a third of a mile wide.

Here are the top 5 tornadoes in width since 1950 in the Valley:

#5 THREE-WAY TIE
All three of these tornadoes estimated 150 yards in width:
Buffalo Gap to Churchville Tornado – April 28, 2011
Harrisonburg Tornado – April 28, 2011
Harriston Tornado – April 5, 1952

#4 STRASBURG TO MIDDLETOWN TORNADO – APRIL 28, 2011
The tornado that touched down east of Strasburg and lifted west of Middletown was estimated at 175 yards wide. This tornado was an EF-0 tornado that was apart of the April 2011 Super Outbreak that dropped 5 tornadoes in the Shenandoah Valley.

#3 STUARTS DRAFT TORNADO – APRIL 16, 2011
Yep, another 2011 tornado. This tornado was apart of a mini-outbreak 12 days before the April 2011 Super Outbreak. This EF-0 tornado was 200 yards wide and caused damage in Stuarts Draft.

#2 FULKS RUN TO TOMS BROOK TORNADO – APRIL 28, 2011
Likely one of the strongest tornadoes to strike the Valley, this EF-2 tornado registered as 400 yards wide (about a quarter of a mile). This tornado was on the ground for 33.5 miles, touching down west of Fulks Run and finally lifting west of Toms Brook and was apart of the April 2011 Super Outbreak.

#1 STANLEY TORNADO – JUNE 3, 2009
The widest tornado to hit the Valley touched down just north of Stanley in 2009. This EF-1 tornado was 600 yards wide, but only on the ground for 1.67 miles.

In contrast, the El Reno tornado was 7.63 times the size of the Valley’s widest tornado that touched down near Stanley. When the Valley sees tornadoes, they are limited in strength and size. It took the worst outbreak in US history to bring many of these larger sized tornadoes to hit the Valley.

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