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Sunday Tornado: Possibly Mississippi’s Widest on Record

16 Apr 2020, 3:00 am

Residents in the Southeastern United States are still cleaning up after a devastating tornado outbreak on Easter Sunday.  As of last check, more than 100 tornadoes have been confirmed in 10 states between April 12th and 13th.

The National Weather Service office in Jackson, Mississippi continues to survey storm damage and update storm report information.  On Wednesday, this office issued preliminary storm path information for two long-track tornadoes, including an EF-4 tornado.

This EF-4 tornado was notable for many reasons, especially the fact that it was at least two-miles wide (3,520 yards)!  Per data compiled at Mississippi State University’s Mid-South Tornado Database, the widest tornado on record in the state was 3,080 yards.  This was a deadly EF-4 tornado that occurred on April 24, 2010.

So how does this potential record wide tornado in Mississippi stack up to other wide tornadoes in the United States?  The widest known tornado on record was 2.6 miles miles wide (4,576 yards) and occurred in El Reno, Oklahoma on May 31, 2013.  Before El Reno, the widest tornado was an EF-4 in Hallam, Nebraska on May 22, 2004.  This tornado was 2.5 miles wide (4,400 yards).

So while not a national record, the April 12, 2020 Mississippi tornado will likely be a state record.  Regardless of width, the damage caused by this storm was devastating.  It was on the ground for approximately 68 miles.  Miraculously, there were no reported fatalities.  That is the best news!

Rated an EF-4, this violent tornado had a maximum wind speed of at least 166 miles per hour.

Tornadoes of this strength are fairly rare—but not unheard of—in Mississippi. The number of EF-4-rated tornadoes in the state since 1880 is just 53.  Out of 2,807 reported tornadoes, that is less than 2 percent.  EF-5 tornadoes are even less likely in Mississippi.  Only seven have been observed since 1880.

It appears the 2020 tornado season has been quite active so far.  Be sure to tune into WeatherNation in the months ahead as we bring you the latest forecast information.

About the author
Joe Astolfi has been a weather enthusiast and geography guru ever since childhood.  After earning an Associate degree at Terra State Community College in Ohio, he decided to pursue a Bachelor degree in meteorology at Northern Illinois University.  He minored in Geographic Information Systems (GIS).  Before arriving at WeatherNation TV, Joe worked at WREX-TV in Rockford, Illinois.  Forecasting ... Load Morefor northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin was anything but ordinary.  Severe storms, tornadoes, flooding, blizzards, and heat waves are just some of the extreme weather events he has covered.  Joe grew up in Sandusky, Ohio and will always have a passion for the Great Lakes region and all it has to offer.

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