You are at: Weather History » Significant Weather Events » May 31-June 1, 2013 Tornado & Flash Flood Event » Fast Facts

El Reno
Tornado

May 31-June 1, 2013 Tornado and Flash Flood Event

The May 31, 2013 El Reno, OK Tornado

Summary

On May 31, 2013, an intense, long-track tornado formed southwest of El Reno. This exceptionally wide tornado took a complex path, rapidly changing in both speed and direction. The tornado spared El Reno and its airport from a direct hit, tracking just south of those locations. The tornado damaged numerous homes along with a few businesses near El Reno. Additionally, intense sub-vortices destroyed crops in numerous fields in the area.

The tornado developed at 5:03 PM CST (6:03 PM CDT) just northeast of the intersection of Heaston and Reuter roads. Initially, the tornado moved to the southeast at 20 to 25 mph. At 5:09 PM CST, the tornado turned to the east, just south of Reno Road between Heaston and Brandley roads. The tornado continued to expand in size just southwest of the El Reno Municipal Air Park, where its speed increased to 30 to 40 mph. As the tornado passed just south of the airport, two satellite tornadoes formed briefly on the west side of the tornado.

At 5:19 PM CST the tornado crossed U.S. Highway 81 near Reno Road as it continued to expand in size. There, the tornado abruptly turned to the north, while also accelerating to greater than 50 mph. From 5:24 to 5:26 PM CST, the tornado reached its maximum in size and intensity near the intersection of Radio and Reuter roads. The tornado, still very large, slowed down as it approached U.S. Interstate Highway 40. From 5:27 to 5:35 PM CST the tornado made a loop just north of the interstate while decelerating to less than 10 mph. After 5:35 PM CST, the tornado moved east once again, and dissipated at 5:42 PM CST near the intersection of I-40 and Banner Road.

Eight people were killed in the tornado, all in vehicles. This included three severe storm researchers who were killed east of U.S. Highway 81 as the tornado overtook their position. Additionally, several other people were killed while attempting to escape the tornado near U.S. Highway 81. Finally, two people were killed along I-40 while waiting for the storm to pass.

The monetary damages were estimated. This tornado was well sampled by two separate mobile research radar teams – the University of Oklahoma RaXPol radar, and the Center for Severe Weather Research’s Doppler on Wheels. Both radars captured high temporal and spatial resolution data relatively close to the large tornado. Both radars measured winds in the tornado of more than 200 mph. The RaXPol radar data shows winds of at least 295 mph very close to the surface. These intense winds were present in very small sub-vortices within the larger tornado circulation. An analysis of the high resolution radar data combined with the results of the ground damage survey indicates that none of these intense sub-vortices impacted any structures in rural Canadian County. So despite the measured wind speeds, surveyors could not find any damage that would support a rating higher than EF-3 based solely on the damage indicators used with the EF scale.

The maximum tornado width was 2.6 miles. However, the damaging wind swath was much larger, as non-tornadic downdraft winds extended for at least a mile south of the tornado. Given the difficulty of separating this damage from tornadic damage, the OU RaXPol radar was used to help determine the width.

El Reno, OK Tornado Path Map

May 31, 2013 EF3 El Reno Tornado Damage Path

Interactive El Reno, OK Tornado Path Map

The map below shows the outline of the El Reno tornado (light blue polygon with dark shading), the path of the tornado center (thick black line) and times the tornado center was along that line (black and white targets).


View May 31, 2013 El Reno, OK Tornado in a larger map

Storm Observer Safety Video

El Reno: Lessons From the Most Dangerous Tornado in Storm Observing History

El Reno Tornado Storm Videos

Video of El Reno, OK EF-5 Tornado: Courtesy of Marshall Stageberg

El Reno Tornado Storm Photos

El Reno, OK EF-5 Tornado: Photos Courtesy of Jeff Snyder

El Reno, OK Supercell - Photo courtesy Brennan Joseph

El Reno, OK Supercell from Above - Photo courtesy Tom Magnuson

El Reno Tornado Damage Photos

The next 10 photos show EF-2/EF-3 damage was caused by the "El Reno" tornado on May 31, 2013.

May 31, 2013 El Reno, OK Tornado Damage Photo
Photo 1: This photo shows EF-3 damage to a house near the intsersection of S. Airport Road and SW 15th Street, or about 6.4 miles southwest of El Reno, OK in Canadian County. The exterior walls of the house had collapsed.
  May 31, 2013 El Reno, OK Tornado Damage Photo
Photo 2: This photo shows EF-3 damage to a metal building near the intsersection of S. Airport Road and SW 15th Street, or about 6.4 miles southwest of El Reno, OK in Canadian County. A progressive collapse of rigid frames occurred with this metal building.
May 31, 2013 El Reno, OK Tornado Damage Photo
Photo 3: This photo shows EF-3 damage to a house near the intsersection of Rother Road and SW 15th Street, or about 6 miles south-southeast of El Reno, OK in Canadian County. All of the walls of the house collapsed.
  May 31, 2013 El Reno, OK Tornado Damage Photo
Photo 4: This photo shows EF-2 damage to a house near the intsersection of Rother Road and SW 15th Street, or about 6 miles south-southeast of El Reno, OK in Canadian County. Large sections of the roof structure were removed, but most walls remained standing.
May 31, 2013 El Reno, OK Tornado Damage Photo
Photo 5: This photo shows EF-2 damage to a another house near the intsersection of Rother Road and SW 15th Street, or about 6 miles south-southeast of El Reno, OK in Canadian County. Large sections of the roof structure were removed, but most walls remained standing.
  May 31, 2013 El Reno, OK Tornado Damage Photo
Photo 6: This photo shows EF-3 damage to a metal and steel building just north of U.S Interstate Highway 40, or about 5 miles east-southeast of El Reno, OK in Canadian County. A progressive collapse of rigid frames occurred with the metal and steel building.
May 31, 2013 El Reno, OK Tornado Damage Photo
Photo 7: This photo shows EF-3 damage to some broken and bent steel poles to some electrical power lines near the intersection of Jensen Road and S. Radio Road, or about 4 miles southeast of El Reno, OK in Canadian County.
  May 31, 2013 El Reno, OK Tornado Damage Photo
Photo 8: This photo shows EF-3 damage to a large metal and steel building at the Canadian Valley Technology Center, or about 4.5 miles east-southeast of El Reno, OK in Canadian County. A collapse of the exterior walls occurred with this building.
May 31, 2013 El Reno, OK Tornado Damage Photo
Photo 9: This photo shows EF-3 damage to a large metal and steel building at the Canadian Valley Technology Center, or about 4.5 miles east-southeast of El Reno, OK in Canadian County. A progressive collapse of rigid frames occurred with this metal building.
  May 31, 2013 El Reno, OK Tornado Damage Photo
Photo 9: This photo shows a heavily damaged white Chevy Cobalt near the intersection of Reuter Road and S. Radio Road, or 4.8 miles southeast of El Reno, OK. Three storm chasers were killed when this vehicle was hit by one of sub-vortices within the larger circulation of the "El Reno" tornado.

USA.gov is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.