A drone captured some shocking images of the tornado that wreaked havoc in the city of Andover in the United States. Fortunately, there were no fatalities, but the material damage was numerous, as can be seen in the images.

The video was captured and broadcast by storm chaser and broadcaster Reed Timmer, a self-described “extreme meteorologist.” The recording corresponds to the night of April 29 and was uploaded to the platform the next day. In the last two weeks it has received more than three million visits.

The tornado broke out on the afternoon of April 29 and mainly affected the city of Andover, a suburb with almost 15,000 inhabitants east of Wichita, in the southern state of Kansas. According to local authorities, the tornado crossed its path with almost a thousand buildings. The gale caused 20,000 homes and businesses to lose power and destroyed other infrastructure such as a school and a leisure center.

The EF tornado scale.
The tornado was assigned a 3 on the Augmented Fujita Scale (EF scale). It is a scale that measures the intensity of these. An EF3 intensity is associated with winds between 218 and 265 km/h. However, this scale is not assigned based on wind speed measurements, but rather uses the damage caused by the tornado to estimate its approximate speed. The scale has six levels (EF0-EF5), and its highest level, EF5, is associated with winds of more than 322 km/h.

The EF scale is an update to the original Fujita scale that was put into use in 2007 by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather service.

The destruction of the EF5 category.
The citizenry of Andover is familiar with what an EF5 force tornado is. Between April 26 and 27, 1991, a series of tornadoes devastated the states of Oklahoma and Kansas. One of them reached the maximum category (in 1991 the original Fujita Scale was still used, although the tornado would also have been classified EF5 in the current scale), causing a total of 17 fatalities in Andover and the surrounding county. The rest of the storms caused four more deaths, to which 321 injured people had to be added, according to official figures.

Andover is located in the area known as “tornado alley”, a region in the American Midwest whose approximate area stretches in a columnar fashion from North Texas to South Dakota. This is a prone area for the appearance of tornadoes. This area is situated between two mountain ranges (the Rockies and the Appalachians), the desert zone of the American Southwest, and the Gulf of Mexico. This corridor brings together the cold, dry air from the western mountains with the hot, humid air from the southeast, creating favorable conditions for the appearance of this meteorological phenomenon.

Tornadoes in Europe.
Although we are used to seeing tornadoes destroy small wooden buildings in the American Midwest, tornadoes can also reach us in our surroundings. Europe experiences an average of 300 tornadoes a year (compared to 1,200 a year in the United States). Germany, Denmark and the Benelux are the countries with the highest density of this type of event, although areas such as England, Central Europe and the Italian coast also see a significant number of events.

In Spain, the Mediterranean coast is the most affected. Between 2000 and 2012, only one category F4 tornado was recorded on the original Fujita scale (which would correspond to an EF5 on the increased scale) in all of Europe, it was in eastern France.

Image | Tornado captured in 2021 in the United States by Thilani Ratheep


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