In October 2019, we launched a Tornado Talk Discord Server. This is essentially a chat room space to talk tornado history. We have had some lively discussions (they usually begin around 7pm ET each evening). We seem to like making lists! And we are turning one of those lists into a full-fledged Funnel Feature! So here they are, the Top 20 Most Photogenic Tornadoes of the Decade (2010-2019) – voted on by the Tornado Talk Discord.
Summary Authors: Jen Narramore and Nick Wilkes
#20: Kanopolis Lake, KS - April 14, 2012
Per The Storm Prediction Center, 83 tornadoes occurred on April 14, 2012. Just over half of them (42) were in the state of KS. The strongest was rated EF4. It had a long track of over 50 miles through parts of Rice, Ellsworth, McPherson and Saline Counties. It also had beautiful structure. Per the NWS summary, the tornado scoured and dug out a section of a gravel road approximately 4-5 inches deep. There was a home swept off its foundation. Summary from NWS Wichita
Video via Omaha Twister Chasers (YouTube embed)
#19: McCook, NE - May 17, 2019
This picturesque tornado from 2019 began just south of Highway 34 along the Red Willow and Hitchcock County line. It moved north-northeast ending northwest of McCook, NE. The EF2 rating was given because this tornado did hit a farm. Per the summary, “The EF-2 rating is a direct result of the house damage, which consisted of a few collapsed exterior brick walls, uplift or removal of half of the structure’s roof, and complete removal of the garage.” Summary from NWS Goodland
Video via Pecos Hank (YouTube embed)
#18: Rozel, KS - May 18, 2013
In 2013, a supercell developed east of Dodge City, KS and produced a large tornado that came within 1 mile of Rozel. Five farms were damaged. One farm house lost most of its roof and some exterior walls. The tornado was rated EF4. Per the NWS in Dodge City, that rating “is based on measured winds of 165 to 185 mph by a Doppler On Wheels.” Summary from NWS Dodge City
Video via Storm chasers Curtis McDonald, Matt Chatelain, and Charles Lubensky (YouTube embed)
#17: Dora, NM - May 29, 2015
This gorgeous tornado developed during the afternoon of May 29, 2015, 4.1 miles NE of Milnes and, south of Dora. This is what we like to hear after a NWS survey: “No damage or injuries reported.” New Mexico Tornado History via NWS Albuquerque
Video via Marco Rank (YouTube embed)
#16: Carpenter, WY - June 12, 2017
This tornado moved to the NNW parallel to County Road 151. There was damage to 4 residences. At one location a semi-attached garage was destroyed. This was consistent with EF2 intensity winds. The NWS survey notes, “Higher intensity winds may have occurred with this tornado, above the speeds as indicated by the only damage available for review by the assessment team.” Summary from NWS Cheyenne
Video via Max Olson Chasing (YouTube embed)
#15: Big Spring, TX - May 5, 2015
This gorgeous twister developed in a rural area north of Big Spring, TX during the afternoon of May 5, 2013. It moved in an easterly direction for just over 8 miles. Damage was minimal. A couple of power poles were snapped near the base. Estimated wind speed of 100 mph. Storm Details via NCDC.
Video via Brandon Sullivan (YouTube embed)
#14: Chapman, KS - May 26, 2016
Several chasers were on this twister including Tornado Talk’s very own Brandon Molyneaux! Per a Funnel Feature he wrote about his chase: “It was a close to textbook chase: movement at a very slow pace while being parallel on W/E roads (perpendicular on N/S roads), along with a very evident RFD slot (Rear Flank Downdraft). The rain managed to stay out of the way during the tornado’s initial stages and most of the way through its lifetime. Chasers tracked this tornado on I-70 and roads that extended from that highway for around 90 minutes. Near the end, the rain wrapped around the tornado, making it close to impossible to see as it was approaching Chapman, KS. Thankfully, the tornado took a southward jog and spared the city (which is always a good thing). Shortly afterwards, the tornado dissipated.” Funnel Feature Link.
Video via Marcus Diaz (YouTube embed)
#13: Cope, CO Tornadoes - May 28, 2018
This was certainly a treat for chasers on May 28, 2018. Not one, not two but actually 3 tornadoes were visible simultaneously across parts of rural Washington County. We were unable to find a photo we could use showing all three but there are several of the “twins” on the NWS Summary page. No damage was reported with any of the tornadoes. The NWS states that the first tornado had anticyclonic rotation. The other two were cyclonic. Tornado 2 had the longest path. NWS Denver Summary.
Video via Severe Weather & News Australia (YouTube embed)
#12: Chugwater, WY - July 4, 2019
There were actually two tornadoes that developed from a supercell near Chugwater on this day. Per the NWS Cheyenne, the first was reported as “a brief tornado touchdown by the Chugwater Fire Chief at 4:46pm MDT over rural ranch land and BLM Public Lands.” The second had a slightly longer path of just over 2 miles. It began 3 miles west of I-25, west of MM 49. There were numerous chasers and storm spotters on this twister and they captured some beautiful shots of the cone tornado that developed. It roped out 1 mile west of I-25 over open ranch land. Images above of Tornado #2 via NWS Cheyenne Summary.
Video via Brandon Ivey (YouTube embed)
#11: Bowdle, SD - May 22, 2010
This tornado began in eastern Walworth County. It was rated EF2 here but intensified to a large EF4 tornado in western Edmunds County. Several farms were hit along the path. The tornado toppled six to eight metal power transmission towers. One tower was sheared off from the concrete footings and traveled an estimated 400 yards. Ground scouring was visible along the path of these towers. Storm Event Details via NCDC.
Video via hillnado57 (YouTube embed)
#10: Alpena, SD - June 18, 2014
This tornado moved close to 12 miles in 40 minutes through Jerauld into Beadle County. There was severe damage to 2 family farms. One of the families took shelter in their basement. Max winds near their location was estimated at 170 mph. NWS Sioux Falls Summary
Video via Dick McGowan (YouTube embed)
#9: Wray, CO - May 7, 2016
Video clip courtesy of Tornado Trackers
This dusty beauty was one of the highlights of 2016! It developed just north of the Wray airport. The NWS could only survey part of the path due to lack of road network. The twister did cross Highway 385 just north of the CR 39 intersection. It picked up a semi and the attached trailer, tossing them to the east. A mobile home lost its roof. NWS Goodland Summary
Video via Tornado Trackers (YouTube embed)
#8: Rochelle-Fairdale, IL - April 9, 2015
Tornadoes are one of nature’s most fascinating phenomena. They are also one of the most destructive and deadly. The Rochelle-Fairdale, IL tornado of April 9, 2015 was extremely photogenic and had amazing structure. Sadly, the path it took brought it through populated areas and directly through Fairdale where two people lost their lives. Even though the tornado was photogenic, it serves as a reminder to those of us that love to stare down the belly of these beasts, that they have real life impacts. NWS Chicago Summary
Video via Justin Poublon (YouTube embed)
#7: Campo, CO - May 31, 2010
A slow moving supercell produced 3 tornadoes in parts of Baca County, CO on May 31, 2010. The third was a gorgeous twister that tracked just over 9 miles. 8 power poles were snapped off west of Highway 287 south of town. Two windmills were also hit. Storm Event Details via NCDC
Video via brenpebbs (YouTube embed)
#6: Katy, OK - May 9, 2016
This dynamic twister developed 1.25 miles south of Katie, OK. Per the NWS Norman, the tornado varied in its movement between northeast and southeast as it crossed county road 1680. A home was destroyed here and an EF4 rating was applied. East of this area, a modular home was hit and sadly there was 1 fatality. NWS Norman Summary
Video via Basehunters Chasing (YouTube embed)
#5: The Dodge City, KS Tornadoes - May 24, 2016
A series of supercells pushed through western KS on this day producing 12 to 15 tornadoes. Some were on the ground simultaneously. This was a highly photographed event by chasers. Tornado #1 was voted on by our Discord peeps as the most photogenic! NWS Dodge City Summary
Video via Pecos Hank (YouTube embed)
#4: Simla, CO - June 4, 2015
Per the NWS survey, 17 tornadoes were confirmed in Elbert County on June 4, 2015. Most produced no damage as they remained over open country. They were highly photogenic! EF1 damage was confirmed SW and SE of Simla. Four homes had severe damage. NWS El Paso Summary
Video via Severe Weather & News Australia (YouTube embed)
#3: Laramie, WY - June 6, 2018
An isolated supercell generated a stellar twister 3 to 4 miles west of Highway 30, approximately 8 miles North of Laramie. It tracked east and intensified over open fields. Per the NWS Cheyenne, “Grass was scoured out of the ground in a wide swath approximately one third of a mile in width near the intersection of County Road 121 and Cattle Drive. This is consistent with an EF-3 tornado.” A satellite tornado developed 2 miles south of the parent tornado. NWS Cheyenne Summary
Video via James Hammett Storm Chasing (YouTube embed)
#2: Waldo, KS - May 28, 2019
This was one of the most photogenic tornadoes of 2019! It tracked northeast for just over 22 miles. Damage occurred to power poles and trees. There were 3 farmsteads with sporadic damage to grain bins, outbuildings and sheds. NWS Hastings Summary
Video via Live Storms Media (YouTube embed)
#1: Capitol, MT / Camp Crook, SD - June 28, 2018
Neither hail nor rain nor wind nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed mission. The Tempest Tours team heads straight for the spectacular Capitol, Montana tornado on June 28, 2018. Photo by Evan Ludes. pic.twitter.com/s14NBUL3z6— Tempest Tours (@TempestTours) August 24, 2018
#1 on our list of most photogenic tornadoes of the decade occurred during the evening of June 28, 2018! A supercell spawned several tornadoes in Carter County, MT into Harding County, SD. This well-structured twister moved 7 miles in 24 minutes. It began just south of Capitol, MT and moved toward Camp Crook, SD. Per the NWS Rapid City, the tornado was given an EF3 rating because the tornado “produced considerable tree and structural damage, including debarking of some trees, collapse of exterior walls of a home, and complete destruction of some outbuildings.” NWS Billings Summary
Video via Daniel Kalbach (YouTube embed)
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