Violent Tornado
wind speeds greater than 200 MPH

Only violent tornadoes are capable of leveling a well-anchored, solidly constructed home. Fortunately, less than 2 percent of all tornadoes reach the 200+ MPH violent category. Furthermore, most violent tornadoes only produce home-leveling damage within a very small portion of their overall damage swath. Less than 5 percent of the 5,000 affected homes in Wichita Falls, Texas were leveled by this massive 1979 tornado. (Looking south from 5 miles).

Photograph by: IDR

Note the huge, circular wall cloud above the tornado. This feature is probably close both in size and location to the parent rotating updraft (called a mesocyclone) which has spawned the violent tornado. Strong and violent tornadoes usually form in association with mesocyclones, which tend to occur with the most intense events in the thunderstorm spectrum.

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Credits and Acknowledgments for WW2010.
Department of Atmospheric Sciences (DAS) at
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.