Can a Tornado Reach 400 Mile Per Hour Winds?

Can a Tornado Reach 400 Mile Per Hour Winds At the F5 Level?

From a quick Google search on this, no Tornado on earth can thankfully reach a 400 mile per hour windspeed. With this being said, 300 mile per hour tornadoes can and do happen, and while they too are uncommon, there have been dozens of these throughout history. In fact the highest wind speed of a tornado ever recorded in history was 302 miles per hour in Bridge Creek Oklahoma in early March of 1999! This is an absolutely insane wind speed and I can only imagine it sounded like a freight train tearing down the farmland of Oklahoma. This is like the mile wide F5 tornado thing that you see at the end of the Movie Twister, and this would likely look like the Wrath of God outside the window, God bless anyone that was involved in this and our thoughts and prayers go out to those in Tornado alley.

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Why a Tornado Likely, And Hopefully Will Never Reach 400MPH on Earth

Luckily the conditions of the planet are just not so that we could ever really see a 400MPH tornado. In fact the highest gust of wind ever recorded in a Cyclone was something like 252mph, and the fastest wind speed ever recorded in an isolated Tornado seems to be 302mph, during Tornado season in mid Oklahoma. And Bing says that Texas is the worst state for Tornadoes in the US….I don’t buy it, Oklahoma for the win! Heck the Hollywood thriller Twister even took place in Oklahoma!

Can a Tornado Reach 300 Mile Per Hour Winds at the F5 Level? The Top 10 Strongest Tornadoes Ever Recorded

Now with the above being said, a tornado can ABSOLUTELY reach 300 mile per hour winds at the F5 level, and yes that is plenty scary and destructive enough! Here are a list of Tornadoes that crossed the 300 mark threshold over the past few decades in the United States, the historical significance and some of the terrible destruction that they caused:

  1. The Moore F5 Tornado in Oklahoma 1999 – The biggest recorded tornado on record, right in central Tornado Alley of Central Oklahoma, this Tornado broke wind speeds of 302 miles per hour and was more than a mile ride. One can only imagine the fearsome sound and sheer terror that occurred during that 60 minute block of time in 1999.Can a Tornado Reach 400 Mile Per Hour Winds at the F5 Level?
  2. The Monster Tornado, April 1947 – Ran through 170 miles of farmland in Texas, Oklahoma and Texas April 9, 1947, with nearly 200 killed. Think about that number, and you can see how TERRIFYING that is within an isolated area storm. This was a two mile wide tornado and was before modern storm tracking methods were established! Update to this, I am reading that this Tornado had wind speeds of between 225 and 440 miles per hour! Source here: that is truly terrifying as those are like winds we see on Jupiter or solar flare level winds. Even with such damaging and monumental wind speeds, the main reason why this tornado was so destructive was just how LONG it lasted for, and how fast it was moving. It tore through nearly 200 miles of total farmland, spanning multiple states.
  3. Tupelo Mississippi Tornado of 1936 – This one was a large conglomerate of dozens of tornadoes that took out 454 souls across Georgia, Arkansas, South Carolina and Mississippi.
  4. Joplin Missouri, May 2011 – This was the worst tornado in nearly 60 years of it’s kind, and took out 150+ people. Wind speeds approaching 300mph for this tornado.
  5. New Richmond Wisconsin in June 1899 – The one cool thing about these Tornadoes, aside from the fact that they are really cool to watch on the internet…or to write blog posts on, is that the stories withstand the test of time, even almost 130 years later. This storm in Wisconsin was so bad namely because it leveled the whole town of New Richmond and killed 117 people. Unfortunately the toll was so high here due to a large chunk of the town being present for a circus event that looks to have been hit dead on by the F5 tornado, a piece of history nonetheless.
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When is a Tornado an F5 vs an F4?

Those grim stories above scare you? Not enough huh, still reading? Well okay, let’s look at when a Tornado is an F5 vs. an F4, or even lower on the scale, and what each of these really means:

F5 tornado – The highest strength tornado of it’s class. The size of these monsters can easily hit 1 to 2 miles wide in very severe cases, and the speed and distance that they can cover can sometimes span multiple states, leveling buildings, homes and everything in there path. Wind speeds here reach an F5 Violent level at the 200mph+ range. The F5 incredible scale is broken at 322mph +. That is incredible indeed, that storm is the wrath of God, or the “Finger of God” as it’s commonly called, and enough to make even the most fearless of humans quake in their boots.

F4 Tornado – 166 to 200mph is the typical range for this. While it may seem like a lot less than the F5, it is still nearly as catastrophic. This is still as strong of wind speeds as the strongest recorded Category 5 Hurricanes on record, just for reference here.

F3 Tornado – 136 to 166mph – Still at Category 3 and 4 and even Category 5 hurricane level wind speeds here. Luckily these things are much more localized and span for only 1-2 hours at the absolute most compared to Hurricanes which can last for literally days. Unfortunately another thing that rings true with tornadoes, is that typically the bigger they are the longer they last, because the system just forms better and becomes healthier. It also rings the quote true that “things that last in time tend to continue to last in time.” That’s a general law of nature, and it’s part of the reason why a weak F1 tornado dissipates rather quickly, it never really gets out of its diapers. Versus the 322mph F5 behemoth tornado that can last for 3 hours, it’s just got more of an engine to draw on.

F2 Tornado – 111 to 135mph – somewhat manageable if it’s quick enough, luckily as these start to snowball downward in intensity they tend to be shorter also.

F1 Tornado – 86 – 100mph – Caution is still needed here, but this is one you could possibly ride out if it’s in your area. If it hits your home however, you still may be in a very bad situation. Much more manageable however and much less damage overall than the gigantic 2 mile wide storms above. These tend to be shorter, have less of a width and lower wind speeds.

F-0 Tornado – 65 to 85mph – This is like a very intense tropical storm or a low grade Category 1 hurricane. I’d imagine that if this was right over your home however you would still have some problems.

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