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Oklahoma Mesonet Site Records Tornadic Winds

Published: Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Oklahoma Mesonet Site Records Tornadic Winds

Gary McManus

Associate State Climatologist

Oklahoma Climatological Survey

The Oklahoma Mesonet site located northwest of El Reno had a very close encounter with one of the violent tornadoes that struck the state on May 24. During that encounter, the Mesonet site recorded a maximum wind gust of 151 mph and a one-minute average wind speed of 115 mph. In addition to the wind measurements, the site also recorded a large and sudden drop in atmospheric pressure consistent with atmospheric conditions surrounding a tornado. The 151 mph wind gust tops the previous Mesonet record gust of 113 mph, recorded at the Lahoma site on August 17, 1994.

Oklahoma Mesonet technician Phil Browder visited the site the morning of May 25 to inspect for damage. “It looks like the damage path was approximately one-quarter to one-half of a mile wide and the tornado passed directly between the Mesonet site to the south and Fort Reno to the north,” Browder said. Browder confirmed that the Mesonet site was within the outer edge of the damage path and noted that the site itself sustained some minor damage but most instruments were still operational.

The Oklahoma Mesonet is a joint operation between the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University and consists of 120 automated stations covering Oklahoma. There is at least one Mesonet station in each of Oklahoma's 77 counties. The Oklahoma Mesonet has been operational since January 1, 1994.