If tornadoes were sharks, an F5 tornado would be Jaws. Tornadoes are categorized between F1 and F5 on the Fujita Scale, which is used to differentiate a tornado’s intensity and path area. 

Here’s a table to illustrate the point you don’t want to get caught in an F5’s path. The terms used here to describe an F5 are intense, violent and significant

Another Fujita reference describes typical F0 damage as “Light damage. Some potential chimney damage, broken branches, small trees may be uprooted, sign damage.” This same document depicts F5 damage in nightmarish terms “Incredible damage. Strong frame houses lifted off foundations and carried considerable distances to disintegrate, automobile sized missiles fly through the air in excess of 100 m, trees debarked; steel reinforced concrete structures badly damaged.” It also states the wind speed of an F5 can exceed 300 mph and cut a swath of utter destruction 1100 meters wide, which is 11 football fields end to end. 

For my visually oriented readers, meet Mr. F5 and what he can do for you.

Mr. F5
Your House

Have I seared an appropriate fear/fascination reaction into your subconscious yet? Good, let’s continue. Jaws scared us from swimming in our own neighborhood pools in the 1970s, yet we couldn’t get enough of him. This fictitious Great White became a cultural icon and inspired the long running television event Shark Week. I wanted to find a tribute equally suitable for the very real Mr. F5. Voila! The F5 Killer Tornado Interactive Map

Now, at last, you can pay homage to all the F5s in recent history. Not only does this nifty map tell you when these killer tornadoes occurred, it traces each F5’s exact path. As if that isn’t enough, this database includes exhaustive statistics around the chaos and casualties resulting from each tornado.


The Tornado History Project’s amazing site provides some interesting F5 data:

  • From 1953 to 2008, 52 F5 tornadoes have wrecked havoc in the US. In total, they have killed 1,034 people and injured another 11,173.
  • The longest F5 path is 202 miles
  • The widest F5 path is 3000 feet
  • 1/10 of 1 percent of all tornadoes reach F5 strength

Here are some bonus tornado facts and figures: 

  • The biggest recorded tornado was 2.5 miles wide
  • More tornadoes occur in Texas each year than any other state.
  • Rotating thunderstorms called supercells produce most tornadoes.
  • Tornadoes can be totally transparent until they suck up dirt, debris…or a cloud.
  • Tornado Alley gets many tornadoes because the dry polar air from Canada clashes with warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Tornadoes usually form between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.

F5 Tornado Prone States
1. Kansas
2. Texas
3. Oklahoma
4. Iowa
5. Alabama
6. Ohio

Top 10 Tornado Prone States

1. Florida
2. Oklahoma
3. Kansas
4. Iowa
5. Illinois
6. Indiana
7. Mississippi
8. Maryland
9. Louisiana
10. Texas

Top 10 Tornado Prone Cities
1. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
2. Tulsa, Oklahoma
3. Dallas – Ft. Worth, Texas
4. Wichita, Kansas
5. Springfield, Missouri
6. Kansas City, Kansas / Missouri
7. Ft. Smith, Arkansas
8. Little Rock, Arkansas
9. Jackson, Mississippi
10. Birmingham, Alabama