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June 5, 2013

Deadly El Reno tornado widest ever

NORMAN, Okla. — The National Weather Service Tuesday upgraded the deadly tornado that struck El Reno, Okla., four days ago to winds of 295 mph and its width to a record 2.6 miles across.

The width surpassed the previous high of 2.5 miles recorded at Hallam, Neb., on May 22, 2004.

The higher velocity of 295 mph made it an EF-5 tornado, only the 60th recorded in the U.S. since 1950. But it was the second in the Oklahoma City area in 11 days. The May 20 twister that tore through Moore, Okla., had a recorded speed of 225 mph and a width of 1.3 miles. It took 24 lives.

The widest tornado and accompanying flooding struck El Reno, located 25 miles west of Oklahoma City, Friday evening, claiming 18 lives, including veteran storm chaser Tim Samaras of the Discovery Channel, his 24-year-old son and a third crew member. Six of the victims were children.

The Weather Service's storm center said an analysis of the radar data along the path of the El Reno tornado determined its final force and width. The center said the measurement only took into account the tornado, and not the winds surrounding it.

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Details for this story were provided by the National Weather Service Storm Center in Norman, Okla.

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