Weather Blog

More on 'legendary' weather station that survived OK tornado

More on 'legendary' weather station that survived OK tornado
El Reno, Oklahoma Mesonet weather station after it survives an encounter with a tornado on May 24, 2011.

The legend of the El Reno, Oklahoma weather station that survived a near direct hit of a tornado on Tuesday continues to grow.

In case you missed it, the station recorded a 131 and 151 mph gust as a large tornado passed right by the station Tuesday afternoon.

The site's operator reportedly visited the tower Wednesday morning to find storm debris wrapped around the tower, surrounding fences destroyed and nearby trees stripped.

But the anemometer kept right on going. And now we have one-minute data as the tornado passed:

Time (CDT) Max Gust (mph) Avg. Speed Wind Direction Pressure (mb)
4:18 pm 61 47 207 (SW) 947.0
4:19 pm 66 53 173 (S) 946.5
4:20 pm 131 81 159 (SE) 936.6
4:21 pm 151 115 256 (W) 929.1
4:22 pm 91 77 294 (NW) 940.5
4:23 pm 56 40 329 (NW) 942.9


The 151 mph gust breaks the record for highest gust recorded by similar equipment.

But just as eye-popping -- or should I say, "ear popping" -- are the incredible pressure changes. The pressure dropped over 17 milibars in two minutes, only to rise over 11 mb the following minute. As I mentioned in Tuesday's blog, a strong windstorm around the Pacific Northwest will generally see 3-4 milibar rises -- per *hour*.

To help put that in perspective, I'll translate those milibars to as if the storm occurred at typical Seattle sea-level pressure levels so you can look at your home barometer to compare:

If the storm began at 29.92 at 4:19 p.m., here is how the next few minutes would have unfolded:

4:19 p.m.: 29.92
4:20 p.m : 29.62
4:21 p.m.: 29.40
4:22 p.m.: 29.74

You can see just how amazing those winds are with those kind of pressure differences.

(Special thanks to Gary McManus, Associate State Climatologist with Oklahoma Climatological Survey and Fred Carr with the University of Oklahoma for providing this information.)