There are some truly twisted and bizarre tornadoes, and I wanted to share my top three. Remember that the rankings are my opinion, and there may be more that I am not aware of.
3. A tornado that sat on a field for almost an hour
While there were a few cases where a tornado just barely moved or did not move at all, it was unusual to see one that did not move for almost an hour. The tornado that was known for doing this was a powerful EF-4 twister in Bennington, Kansas on May 28, 2013. According to a Washington Post article on the tornado, a well-known meteorologist Josh Wurman remarked that he never saw a twister stay still for so long, yet the tornado was literally sitting in one spot on, fortunately, an open field.
Interestingly, the twister recieved its EF-4 rating* despite minimal damages, mostly to trees.
2. A nearly stationary supercell dropped seven twisters in one Nebraska city
The National Weather Service office in Hasting, Nebraska has an archive of how the entire Grand Island got clobbered by seven twisters on the night of June 3, 1980. It all began when a massive, but very slow-moving supercell formed north of the city and moved southward at 8 mph. Of all seven tornadoes it dropped within three hours, three F-3s and one F-4 did most of the damages to the city. The Grand Island storm showed what would happen if there was a tornadic supercell moving across a populated area at a snail’s pace.
1. Two words. Pilger twins.
The infamous EF-4 duo struck Pilger, Nebraska on June 16, 2014. Well, one violent tornado was terrifying, but what about two at once? That would be a nightmare for someone with a phobia of tornadoes. Of all bizarre tornado events, this took the cake in my opinion since it was extremely rare to see two tornadoes close to each other and rotating counter-clockwise, much less those lasting more than mere few minutes, according to U.S. Tornadoes article on the case. Also, The Weather Channel had an article on the case since many meteorologists were trying to wrap their heads around the twins. While there were cases of thunderstorms having multiple tornadoes at the same time, two violent tornadoes close to each other were extraordinarily rare.
The honorable mentions
The honorable mentions that I will cover in next article are:
- High altitude tornadoes
- Tornado that interrupted the invasion of Washington, D.C. (War of 1812)
- Dancing tornadoes
*The Bennington tornado was officially an EF-4, yet the radar measured 247 mph winds, way above EF-5 threshold. It would have been assigned EF-3 if radar data was not used as supplementary data.
**Unfortunately, the Grand Island tornadoes and the Pilger twins did cause seven fatalities altogether (2 from Pilger and 5 from Grand Island), which are tragic regardless of situation. Bennington tornado did not cause any death, and it only caused minimal damages since it was over an open farmland.
I am a trained spotter and weather enthusiast who spent years enjoying learning about weather. I provide my thoughts and commentaries, sometimes with light humor.