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Oklahoma Tornado Reminder of Storm Chasing Dangers

Meteorologists knew that May 31st, 2013 could be a big day for severe weather, including tornadoes.
Meteorologists knew that May 31st, 2013 could be a big day for severe weather,
including tornadoes.

Hype was building.

Especially with what happened 11 days before-the massive EF5 tornado in Moore.

Storm chasers from all around flocked to Oklahoma in the hopes of seeing a
tornado.

When storms popped that afternoon, they zeroed in on El Reno Oklahoma.

What happened as the evening progressed was a stark reminder of how
unpredictable the behavior of tornadoes could be.

The tornado that formed grew into a 2.6 mile wide monster.

The widest tornado ever observed.

8 people were killed.

Including three experienced storm chasers.

But what made the El Reno tornado so deadly?

Gabe Garfield is a meteorologist and experienced storm chaser who has
researched this tornado extensively.

He says one of the factors was the tornadoes erratic motion.

"The El Reno tornado last year, it was changing motion over a wide area
varying speeds from nearly stationary to over 50 mph and varying direction
over 360 degrees."

Another factor - the tornado's incredibly large wind field that made it impossible for
those caught in the middle of it to drive away.

"It actually kept them from escaping and which case the larger winds, the bigger winds, 
and the sub vorticies swept over them and unfortunately resulted in tragedy."

Another possible factor was the high number of chasers following the storm too closely.

The National Weather Service recently released the video, El Reno: Lessons Learned
from the Most Dangerous Tornado in Storm observing Histor
y. Which Garfield helped create,
educating people about the dangers of storm chasing and lessons learned in El Reno.

In the video, he discusses how sometimes chasers have a false sense of security when it
comes to chasing storms

"Sometimes people might have a sense of, I can do this. I've done this before no big deal
and then they get caught off guard and if you don't have a margin of safety large enough
to account for the things that you don't know then it's possible that they can potentially
catch you off guard and potentially kill you."




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