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Remembering the El Reno Tornado of May 31, 2013

Remembering the El Reno Tornado of May 31, 2013

It’s been ten years since the EF3 tornado tore through El Reno, Oklahoma, and left a path of destruction in its wake. The storm was so powerful that it registered as an EF3 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, making it one of the most powerful tornadoes ever recorded. In this article, we’ll answer some common questions about the tornado and provide information about what really happened that fateful day.

What was the El Reno tornado?

The El Reno tornado was an EF3 tornado that touched down on May 31, 2013 in the small city of El Reno, Oklahoma. The storm had wind speeds of up to 302 mph and caused significant damage to buildings and homes.

By the time it dissipated, the storm had destroyed over 1,000 homes and businesses, injured more than 150 people, and taken the lives of eight people. It was one of only twelve tornadoes ever recorded to reach EF3 strength. [1]

What was the El Reno tornado?

What was the size of the El Reno tornado?

The El Reno tornado was vast. It measured 2.6 miles wide and spanned 17.1 miles of landscape before dissipating, making it the largest tornado ever recorded in Oklahoma’s history. Its sheer size made the destruction it caused even more devastating, as many homes and businesses were completely destroyed by its winds. [2]

How did the tornado affect El Reno?

The tornado had a devastating effect on El Reno, destroying homes and businesses in its path. Many of the buildings it destroyed were not built to withstand such powerful winds, leaving some people without a home or place of business. Additionally, the storm destroyed power lines and disrupted phone service for many residents. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, thousands of volunteers from around the country descended upon the small city to assist with recovery efforts.

What happened that caused the El Reno tornado to strike nearby storm chasers?

On the day of the tornado, a group of storm chasers were in El Reno tracking the tornado. When they realized that the tornado was quickly approaching them, they attempted to outrun it, but their vehicles were unable to outpace the winds. Tragically, three members of this group—Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras and Carl Young—were killed when their vehicle was struck by debris from the tornado.[3]

Who was Tim Samaras, and what happened to him during the El Reno tornado?

Tim Samaras was one of the storm chasers killed during the tornado. He was an award-winning scientist and engineer who dedicated his life to studying tornadoes and other extreme weather events. On May 31, 2013, he set out with two colleagues in pursuit of the El Reno tornado, but their vehicle was unable to outrun the winds and debris from the tornado ultimately struck them.

Who was Tim Samaras, and what happened to him during the El Reno tornado?

Tim’s death is a tragic reminder of how dangerous these storms can be, even for experienced professionals.

What happened to The Weather Channel meteorologist Mike Bettes in the El Reno tornado?

Mike Bettes was one of the experienced storm chasers caught in the El Reno tornado on May 31, 2013. Bettes was working for The Weather Channel at the time and had been chasing storms for years. As he tracked the tornado, it quickly became apparent that it was headed towards them. Fortunately, Bettes and his crew were able to outrun the storm and reach safety before their vehicle could be struck by debris from the tornado. [4]

Why was traffic so bad around Oklahoma City the day of the tornado?

Traffic in and around Oklahoma City was especially bad on the day of the tornado due to the high volume of people traveling to El Reno to chase or view the storm. As a result, many roads were clogged with vehicles, making it difficult for emergency services to reach those who needed help. Additionally, power outages caused by the storm further hindered traffic flow as traffic signals were not working.

How has the El Reno tornado changed storm chasing?

The El Reno tornado of May 31, 2013 had a profound impact on storm chasing. The EF-3 tornado was the widest in recorded history at 2.6 miles wide and claimed the lives of 8 people. It was an unprecedented event that forever changed how storm chasers look at severe weather events.

In the wake of this tragedy, storm chasers must weigh the risk versus reward when deciding to chase storms. Chasing storms can be dangerous and unpredictable, but if done with caution, can provide valuable data for meteorologists and scientists studying severe weather systems. Many veteran chasers set new standards and protocols for safe storm chasing after the disaster in El Reno due to its sheer power and destruction.

How has the El Reno tornado changed storm chasing?

Storm chasers now use technology more than ever to determine the safety of a storm. Radar and satellite data are used in real time to track storms, allowing chasers to stay ahead of dangerous weather systems. Technology has also improved communication between chasers on the road, which is crucial for warning others about potential hazards.

The El Reno tornado was a tragedy that will never be forgotten. It forever changed how storm chasing is conducted in the United States and serves as an important reminder of nature’s power. Storm chasing can still be done safely with the right preparation and knowledge. By following these guidelines and staying informed on current severe weather conditions, storm chasers can pursue their passion while minimizing risks associated with extreme weather events such as tornadoes.


Why is the El Reno tornado so famous?

The El Reno tornado is famous for being the widest and second-deadliest single tornado in recorded history. It was a massive tornado that struck El Reno, Oklahoma on May 31st, 2013. This storm had an estimated diameter of 2.6 miles wide at its peak and produced winds estimated as high as 302 mph making it an EF3 tornado on the Enhanced Fujita scale – the highest rating possible. The tornado killed eight people and injured more than 150 others, making it one of the deadliest tornadoes in recent years.

The remarkable size of this storm made it very difficult to study by scientists due to its immense scale – something rarely seen before. As a result, many researchers flocked to the area after the event to study the damage and behavior of this massive storm. Scientists quickly determined that the tornado contained two distinct, smaller vortices which interacted with each other in an interesting way. The data collected from this event has shed light on how tornadoes interact and move through their environment as well as how they form and develop over time.

Overall, the El Reno tornado is famous for its immense size, destructive power, and unique interaction between its two vortices – all factors which make it one of the most studied storms in recent history. Despite being a tragedy to those affected by the storm, researchers around the world have used data gathered from this event to help better understand severe weather formation and movement – making it one of the most significant disasters in modern times.

How long did the El Reno tornado last?

The El Reno tornado lasted for 40 minutes, with winds estimated to have reached speeds of up to 302 mph. The storm caused extensive damage in the town of El Reno, including destroying homes and businesses. [5]

What was different about the El Reno tornado?

The El Reno tornado was unique in that it was the widest tornado ever recorded, with a width of 2.6 miles. Additionally, its winds were estimated to have reached speeds of up to 302 mph, making it one of the most powerful tornadoes on record.

What damage did the El Reno tornado do?

The El Reno tornado caused significant damage throughout its path. Numerous homes and businesses were destroyed or severely damaged, with some being completely swept away. There were reports of entire neighborhoods being leveled in a matter of minutes. The storm also damaged roads and bridges and downed power lines, leaving many without electricity for days. Beyond the physical destruction, there was tremendous emotional pain as well, with many families losing loved ones in the powerful winds of the storm. The El Reno tornado is one of the deadliest tornadoes in recent history, claiming 8 lives and injuring hundreds more. It serves as a reminder that even when we’re prepared for such events, they can still cause devastating consequences. As people continue to rebuild their lives in wake of this tragedy, it is important that we remember those who suffered in the storm, and take steps to be better prepared for future severe weather events.

Useful Video: The El Reno Tornado in Oklahoma, May 31, 2013


The El Reno tornado was one of the most powerful and destructive tornadoes in history, claiming 8 lives and injuring many more. It has highlighted the dangers associated with storm chasing and raised awareness about the need for safety precautions when approaching storms. Its legacy will remain as a reminder of how quickly Mother Nature can turn from beautiful to devastating in an instant. We must remember those who suffered in the storm, and be better prepared for future severe weather events.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Reno_tornado
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_El_Reno_tornado
  3. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-storm-chaser-changed-face-tornado-science-180968688
  4. https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/after-near-disaster-last-year-weather-channels-mike-bettes-back-out-to-chase-tornadoes
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_El_Reno_tornado