Oklahoma Twister Was Largest Ever in U.S.

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 4 2013 5:30 PM

From Storm Chasers to Storm Chasees: An Animated Adventure

The twister that tore through Oklahoma on Friday has been retroactively upgraded to an EF5 tornado, the strongest classification available and the same one assigned to the twister that leveled much of Moore, Oklahoma earlier in the month. Friday's twister, according to the National Weather Service, was a 2.6 miles wide and tracked across 16.2 miles, making it the largest ever recorded in the United States.

The full force of the storm isn't conveyed in the animation below, but what the video does offer is an idea of just how many storm chasers were on the ground scrambling—at first, anyway—to get an up-close look at what would prove to be an historic twister. But, as you'll see, the job of storm chaser gets a whole lot more difficult when the storm is the one doing the chasing.


Each tiny blue triangle represents a chaser or spotter that are part of the Spotter Network; they've got to be the most vulnerable looking blue triangles I've ever seen. The white blob, as you can probably guess, is the tornado. If nothing else, the video reminds me that I am not cut out for a second career as a storm chaser.

Unfortunately, not all of those chasing the twister survived the storm. Three stars of the former reality show Storm Chasers—including Tim Samaras, one of the world’s best known storm chaserswere among those killed.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 



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