This is the third part of five in my ranking of the top 25 tornadoes of the EF scale era.
15. Philadelphia, MS – April 27, 2011 (EF5 rating) Path 29 miles; Maximum Width .5 miles; 3 Fatalities; 8 Injuries
This was the first really major tornado of the April 27, 2011 Super Outbreak, touching down about 2:30pm just east of Philadelphia, MS in Neshoba County, and it was recorded by many storm chasers. It left behind extreme damage that gets this tornado much consideration in any discussion of strongest or most extreme tornadoes. Extreme ground scouring was noted in multiple locations, up to two feet deep in some places. The only reasons it doesn’t rank higher is the low loss of life due to not going thru much population and the path length that is shorter than many other major tornadoes on this list. Born from the most prolific supercell of the entire outbreak, this same parent storm would put down the Cordova tornado, Rainsville tornado and the Ringgold tornado later- all of which were EF4 or stronger, and earned a place on this ranking.
14. Shoal Creek-Ohatchee, AL – April 27, 2011 (EF4 rating) Path 97.3 miles; Maximum Width 1 mile; 22 Fatalities; 85 Injuries
After the Tuscaloosa tornado lifted, the same supercell quickly put down this equally impressive tornado. This one was actually on the ground longer than the Tuscaloosa tornado, but luckily didn’t go thru nearly as much population – still it killed 22 people, proof of it’s violence. Amazingly there are still four more tornadoes from April 27, 2011 that were more impressive. The Tuscaloosa tornado and Shoal Creek-Ohatchee tornado combined were on the ground for nearly 180 miles!
13. Vilonia, AR – April 27, 2014 (EF4 rating) Path 41.1 miles; Maximum Width .75 miles; 16 Fatalities; 193 Injuries
If I had to pick one tornado that would have rated F5 on the old scale, or should have been rated EF5, it would probably be this tornado. April 27, 2014 (three years exactly after the 2011 Super Outbreak) was tagged as a high risk day for Arkansas – while the event was largely a bust, one very powerful tornado did touch down and cause considerable damage and loss of life. Vilonia, Arkansas had taken a heavy hit from an April 25, 2011 EF2 tornado, but this one was considerably more powerful. The tornado touched down just after 7pm in Pulaski County and stayed on the ground for an hour, with the heaviest damage occurring in the towns of Mayflower and Vilonia. Much controversy arose from the final high-end EF4 rating, and Arkansas remains the only state in prime tornado country to not yet have an official F5/EF5 tornado. The next day, April 28, resulted in a high risk day and large tornado outbreak over Mississippi and Alabama with another 50 tornadoes and 19 fatalities – the most notable another powerful EF4 that struck Louisville, Mississippi.
12. Rainsville, AL – April 27, 2011 (EF5 rating) Path 36.6 miles; Maximum Width .75 miles; 25 Fatalities; Injuries N/A
Another tornado lost amidst the attention that the Tuscaloosa tornado got on April 27th was this very violent tornado in northeast Alabama/Georgia. Touching down in DeKalb County at 6:19 pm, the tornado would track just east of Highway 75, hitting the towns of Fyffe, Rainsville and Sylvania, Alabama hardest. The tornado appears most violent in Rainsville and Sylvania, where numerous homes and businesses were destroyed and damage was rated at EF5. Vehicles were thrown long distances and a school bus was stripped to it’s chassis. Perhaps most impressive, an 800 pound safe was ripped from it’s anchoring and thrown 600 feet – when found the door had also been ripped off. Pavement was scoured from several roads. This incredible supercell would not yet be done, and the EF5 Rainsville tornado was quickly followed by the powerful EF4 Ringgold, GA tornado.
11. Picher-Neosho, OK-MO – May 10, 2008 (EF4 rating) Path 75.5 miles; Maximum Width 1 mile; 21 Fatalities; 350 Injuries
In mid-May 2008, a series of tornado outbreaks resulted in 147 tornadoes between May 7 and May 15, the most notable was this tornado on May 10th. While the primary tornado target appeared to be Arkansas, northern Mississippi and northern Alabama, it was an afternoon supercell in Oklahoma that produced this monster. The tornado touched down near the Oklahoma-Kansas border, tracking east, and into the town of Picher, Oklahoma, killing six and injuring over 150. Tracking into Missouri, the worst damage occurred at an intersection of Highway 43 and Iris Road, near the community of Racine. Many were killed in their cars – some thrown as far as 1/2 mile – apparently caught by the rain-wrapped tornado unexpectedly. Among those killed was young firefighter Tyler Casey, who died warning others of the approaching twister.
***Sources include ExtremePlanet.me, Wikipedia, spc.noaa.gov, YouTube (TVNweather), YouTube (Cotton Rohrscheib), YouTube (mark simp), YouTube (Brandon Ivey) and alamy.com.