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.

Advertisement

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. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 16 2014 11:46 PM The Scariest Campfire Story More horrifying than bears, snakes, or hook-handed killers.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.