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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).

[Image: violent tornado (79K)]
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.

Terms for using data resources. CD-ROM available.
Credits and Acknowledgments for WW2010.
Department of Atmospheric Sciences (DAS) at
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.