Storms of the decade: the 2010s (main-discussion and preliminary voting)

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Jeff Duda

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(SEE RULES AT BOTTOM OF POST)

So I have compiled the nominations provided so far. I also have decided on a small number of unique categories that I think we should focus on.

See the initial discussion of rules and categories here: Storms of the decade: the 2010s (pre-discussion)

At this point, if you feel another event should be added, please provide specific and detailed justification for why the particular event should be considered. Go into a short essay about it if needed. There are going to be too many events to try to decide between if we just throw up every EF3-5 tornado for consideration. Other than just being a "violent-class" event, there needs to be something particular about an event that sets it above the rest. For example, El Reno 2013 is considered more than just because it was an EF5 (by radar estimated wind speed), but because it was the widest tornado ever documented and because it killed well-known storm chasers.

Categories
  • Meteorological significance (i.e., some kind of measurable meteorological extreme, whether statistical or a single measurement)
  • Chase quality (i.e., location/topography and backdrop for photography, closeness or clarity of video or pictures, amount of time someone could spend watching the event without moving much etc.)
  • Human impact (i.e., most damage, fatalities, newsworthy)
For each event, I have listed which category(ies) I think applies, and have boldfaced the category that I think is most pertinent. I have also included a brief narrative as to what made the event stand out.

I have also highlighted the events that I think are most deserving of the top slot(s).

Events
  • 2010
    • 22 May (Bowdle, single storm/tornado) - meteorological significance,chase quality?
      • Very large EF4 tornado (borderline EF5) that sat nearly stationary for a time. Well-documented by chasers. Followed by other, less notable tornadoes. Storm chasers marooned in a field with tornadoes nearby at one point.
    • 31 May (Campo, single storm/tornado) - chase quality
      • Particularly photogenic
    • 16 June (Dupree, single storm/string of tornadoes) - meteorological significance,chase quality
      • One storm produced more than 10 tornadoes while also barely moving
    • 17 June (Minnesota outbreak) - meteorological significance, chase quality?
      • Minnesota's biggest tornado outbreak. Multiple EF4s.
  • 2011
    • 9 April (Iowa, nocturnal outbreak) - meteorological significance, chase quality?
      • Best part of event occurred after dark. Early in the year.
    • 27 April (super outbreak) - meteorological significance, human impact
      • 'Nuff said
    • 22 May (Joplin, single tornado) - meteorological significance, human impact
      • ~160 fatalities - incredible examples of unusual damage
    • 24 May (Oklahoma, outbreak) - meteorological significance, chase quality?, human impact?
      • Multiple violent/extreme tornadoes, possibly as many as 3 EF5s, some of which were simultaneous and closely spaced (McClain/Cleveland Counties threatening Moore and Norman simultaneously); schools/businesses in and around OKC closed early en mass
  • 2012
    • 2 March (Midwest outbreak) - meteorological significance, human impact
      • Major outbreak considering the region. Several intense tornadoes. Some interesting video.
    • 14 April (Plains outbreak) - meteorological significance, chase quality?
      • Well-predicted high-end plains outbreak nearly one week in advance. First SPC day 2 High Risk.
  • 2013
    • 18 May (Rozel, single tornado) - chase quality
      • Start of a 3-day outbreak sequence in KS/OK. Photogenic tornado. Extremely well covered.
    • 20 May (Moore EF5, single tornado) - meteorological significance, human impact
      • End of a 3-day outbreak sequence. 25 fatalities. Moore hit for 3rd time in 14 years by EF4+ tornadoes, (two (E)F5s).
    • 28 May (Bennington, single tornado, also a second storm that did something similar that no one else was on) - meteorological significance?, chase quality
      • Single tornado sat essentially stationary for nearly one hour. Very large and strong. Well-documented. A chaser's dream.
    • 31 May (El Reno EF5) - meteorological significance, human impact
      • First instance of storm chasers killed by actual weather elements. Record setting width and possibly strongest winds ever documented in a tornado.
    • 4 October (Wayne/NE) - meteorological significance, chase quality?
      • Out of season, very large tornadoes. Some good quality video.
    • 17 November (Midwest tornado outbreak) - meteorological significance, human impact?
      • Very late season; EF4 tornado hit Washington, IL.
  • 2014
    • 16-18 (Nebraska/South Dakota outbreak sequence, could also consider just 16 June) - meteorological significance, chase quality
      • 16 June storm produced 4 EF4s with several occurrences of simultaneous EF4s close enough to drive between. Small NE town devastated. Large, photogenic tornadoes on the following two days in a similar location as well.
  • 2015
    • 9 April (Rochelle, single tornado) - human impact
      • Lots of stories of human impact. Video of car on I-39 almost getting hit. Video from house getting hit.
    • 27 May (Texas panhandle, single storm) - meteorological significance?, chase quality
      • Well documented and photogenic tornado
    • 4 June (Colorado, single storm) - chase quality
      • Well documented and photogenic tornadoes. Cyclonic and anticyclonic simultaneous tornadoes.
    • 15 November (Texas panhandle, outbreak) - meteorological significance, chase quality
      • Almost entirely after-dark tornadoes. Multiple very large tornadoes. Well documented
  • 2016
    • 7 May (Wray, single tornado) - chase quality
      • Particularly photogenic and chased at close range
    • 9 May (Oklahoma outbreak) - meteorological significance, chase quality
      • Particularly photogenic and violent, multiple tornadoes of different shapes/sizes. Many high quality videos at close range.
    • 24 May (Dodge City outbreak) - meteorological significance, chase quality
      • Multiple instances of two or three simultaneous tornadic circulations. Large tornado count.
    • 25 May (Chapman, single tornado) - meteorological significance
      • Single EF4 on the ground for ~90 minutes.
  • 2017
    • 12 June (CO/WY/NE outbreak) - meteorological significance, chase quality
  • 2018
    • 6 June (Laramie, single storm/tornado) - chase quality
      • Particularly photogenic tornado
  • 2019
    • mid-late May outbreak sequence? - meteorological significance
      • Statistically extreme
Please comment on these and begin casting your votes for the top two or three in each of the three categories. We will eventually set up a formal vote for this.

(I WILL EDIT THIS POST IF ANY NEW NOMINATIONS COME IN AFTER THIS DISCUSSION INITIATED)
 
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Todd Lemery

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My top three in order:

1) Joplin- besides all the deaths, there were an incredible 1,1150 injuries that occurred and it could have been much worse with the Joplin High School graduation ceremony getting done a short time before the tornado struck. The high school was destroyed.
2) Chapman- Roger Hill said this was his favorite chase in a career that started in the sixties. I believe him. A large part of the storm could be watched from I-70
3) Dodge City- A tornado fest. Everybody and their mother was on this big time producer and yet with the storms slow moving ways, it was never really overcrowded.

I realize none of these storms were a once in a lifetime occurrence, but they each might be a once in a decade occurrence for their own reasons.
 
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My top three would be as follows:

1)Chapman 2016: I likely will have multiple shots in my lifetime at a DDC type storm. I'm not sure I'll have another shot at one that not only stayed on the ground as long as Chapman did, yet maintained most of its intensity for the bulk of the time. If I get another shot at it, it'll only be once or twice, no more.

2)24 May 2011: Another instance that I doubt I'll have a chance to personally see again in my lifetime. Three storms inside of 50 air miles of each other, each with violent tornadoes is something that, like Chapman, if I get another chance at, it'll be one or two tops.

3)Pilger 2014: Yes, we have a theme here. I'm basing mine almost entirely off of incredible events that I'm least likely to have another shot at, and they all involve wedges. To my knowledge, the only other pair of tornadoes on the ground concurrently from the same storm comparable to Pilger was during the 1965 Palm Sunday outbreak.

I did consider Bennington, a couple of the Texas Panhandle events, and 9 May 2016, but based on past statistics, I will likely have multiple chances in my lifetime at similar events, much like I think I will DDC. Maybe not as many in one storm as DDC, but cyclical storms of that nature are not as uncommon as the main ones I had under consideration.
 
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Jan 14, 2011
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Meteorological Significance: 2011 Super Outbreak (April 27, 2011). As perfect and extreme of a tornado environment as you are ever going to see in a generation, let alone in a decade. The data backs this up: take a look at the scatter diagram for 0-2km SRH and MLCAPE on Jon Davies' blog post on the event:


This event also produced its share of extreme phenomena rarely seen in tornado history: anchored concrete parking stops ripped from the ground, deep trenches dug into soil, a steel railroad trestle destroyed, and many more.

To narrow this to a single storm/tornado, there are 3 main contenders: 2013 El Reno for obvious reasons (record width and chaser impacts), Phil Campbell-Hackleburg EF5 and the 2011 El Reno EF5 both of which produced extreme damage instances rivaled by few events in history.

Chase Quality: Dodge City, May 24, 2016. For the ease in chasing, the obvious forecast, the occurrence during the season peak allowing for the maximum number of chasers to witness the event, in perfectly flat and treeless western Kansas terrain, sheer number of tornadoes and multiplicity of high-contrast, tall, symmetrical, majestic and full-structured photogenic tornadoes, this day has no equal even when considering Pilger and Simla.

Human Impact: The 2011 Super Outbreak is again the clear leader on the event scale by every available objective metric (deaths, injuries, property damage). On the single-storm level, Joplin is on top by a long shot.
 
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1: Chase quality: Campo. Although I was not there (setting up for day two in Nebraska), Campo was the "perfect" photo / chase opportunity. In 30+ years of chasing as a professional photographer, this storm had it all. There may have been similar photogenic tornadoes during this period (and I shot a few of them), but I've decided to set aside my own glory to vote on the best, even though I missed it.

The tornado was beautiful - period. It had insane structure, height, color, background and contrast. It hamed no one, so it's easy to celebrate it's majesty. It was a safe storm to chase as features were visible and it was moving at a snail's pace. There was no massive chaser convergence. The forecast potential was there if you carefully examined the data and read Stan Rose's PUB Discussion. It developed over hours, allowing chasers to arrive on the scene as the photographic potential peaked in perfect timing as the storm crossed a major highway. I've said this before, had the best images from this storm, including those by Jason, been shot in the 70's 80's, the stock value would have easily been over $500,000 or higher just for stills. "Campo" has also become a catchphrase for comparing similar tornadoes.

2: Meteorological significance: This is a tough pick as several storms fit the category. Maybe in the future Jeff could add an "Outbreak (3 or more tornadoes) Significance. The 4-27-2011 outbreak would be the pick for that category if it existed. I would have to go with the El Reno event. The historical impact in addition to the meteorology factors top the scale.

3: Human Impact: Joplin. I was involved (before, during and / or after) the majority of tornado disasters (Plains) during the 2000's. This includes Moore (3x), Greensburg, Joplin, El Reno and Piedmont. None of the damage came close to Joplin. I believe some of the sub-vorticies broke records, although we will never know. The massive hospital was moved 4 inches off the foundation (are you fricking kidding me), and was later demolished. Thus, the human toll was devistating with 161 lives lost and major infrastructure destroyed. According to Wiki: The Joplin tornado was the costliest in US history: $2.8 billion (2011 USD) $3.12 billion (2019 USD).
 
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Meteorological significance:
1. 2011-04-27 Superoutbreak (no comment needed)
2. 2013-05-31 El Reno (for tornado size/structure and storm evolution)
3. 2011-05-24 (for three adjacent ~EF5-producing storms coming off the dryline into C OK within a 2-h window)

Honorable mention:
2013-10-04 (multiple 1.5-mi. wide daytime, visible wedges, in October!)

Chase quality:
1. 2016-05-24 Dodge City (doesn't have one individual tornado in the top 3, but tornado quantity*quality, terrain, and accessibility put it over the top -- this was the closest thing to the legendary 5/29/04 KS storm we got this decade)
2. 2010-05-31 Campo (best tornado of the decade to chase, IMO)
3. 2014-06-16 - 2014-06-18 NE/SD (best three-day sequence ever documented by chasers by a staggering margin, IMO)

Honorable mention:
2010-05-22 Bowdle
2010-06-16 Dupree
2013-05-28 Bennington
2016-05-25 Chapman
2018-06-06 Laramie

Human impact:
1. 2011-04-27 Superoutbreak
2. 2011-05-22 Joplin
3. 2013-05-20 Moore

Honorable mention:
2013-05-31 El Reno (for being the most impactful day on the storm chasing community to-date)
 
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(31 May 2013 just goes totally in it's own territory. Like "Legendary or Culturally significant event to the weather community and beyond")


Chase Quality:

4 June 2015 - Personally was there, literally hours of photogenic tornado time, under perfect structure, over beautiful terrain and bookended with photogenic storm initiation and death. Minimal human impact. No convergence. Chasers barely saw one another.
7 May 2016 - was not there, personal goal for a single tornado event.
24 May 2016 - Would get first place if not for convergence factor.


Human impact:

27 April 2011
22 May 2011
20 May 2013


Met. Significance:

28 May 2013 - No idea a storm could behave like that. pushed the envelope in so many ways.
31 May 2013 - Behavior, size, environment, again changing the idea of what a storm is capable of.
16-18 June 2014 - Following an incredibly quiet May, Twin wedge tornadoes, tornado absorption.
Late May 2019 - Was to some degree predicted to be more active than previous years based on conditions in place already in January. Blew away expectations/hopes.
 
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Mar 30, 2008
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Bowdle - chase quality
Was a great storm to chase, still the craziest I've ever chased.

May 24, 2011 - meteorological significance, chase quality, human impact
This was one left split away from being perhaps one of the worst outbreaks ever. So much to admire about this day. So many facets from meteorological to the warning from media/NWS that cleared the roads right as the storms approached I-35. Also an oil rig was thrown by the real El Reno EF5

May 9, 2016 - chase quality
Slow moving great tornadoes in questionable terrain. Was a great chase

June 2014 - meteorological significance, chase quality, human impact
Those 3 days of June had so much and I really hate that I had to miss them.
 
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By no means does it stack up to some these contenders, but i think for sake of mention, i'd toss the May 28, 2019 Lawrence/Linwood KS EF4 onto the list. It was a long track EF4 which tracked through and did major damage to a populated area. I think it maybe could be seperate from the "outbreak sequence" listing for May 2019. Wiiiiii.
 
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Jeff Duda

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By no means does it stack up to some these contenders, but i think for sake of mention, i'd toss the May 28, 2019 Lawrence/Linwood KS EF4 onto the list. It was a long track EF4 which tracked through and did major damage to a populated area. I think it maybe could be seperate from the "outbreak sequence" listing for May 2019.
IMO, while this event is notable due to the size, strength, and the radar presentation, it is probably most notable in the community due to the SLT incident (which could justify a "human impact" classification...), but I personally would not rank it at the top of even Kansas tornadoes of the decade (considering "Bennington"s), let alone any events across the country.

However, that is just me. If others believe it is worth giving further consideration, it will ultimately end up on the voting rolls. I would recommend folks attempting to add events at this point please provide specific and detailed justification for why this particular event should be considered. Go into a short essay about it if needed. There are going to be too many events to try to decide between if we just throw up every EF3-5 tornado for consideration. Other than just being a "violent class" event, there needs to be something particular about an event that sets it above the rest. For example, El Reno 2013 is considered more than just because it was an EF5 (by radar estimated wind speed), but because it was the widest tornado ever documented and because it killed well-known storm chasers.
 

Jeff Duda

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I have more info to add to favor 28 May 2013 (Bennington) as being deserving of this list. Most people forget that the eponymous tornado was preceded by a very similar one a few counties to the northeast. This old news article has several of pictures of it (first half of the article). This Centralia-Corning tornado could have easily competed with Bennington for tornado-of-the-day honors had more people been on it.

 
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Jan 16, 2009
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A couple thoughts .... I can move this if needed.

2017 shows no events but would not May 16th 2017 – Mc Lean to Elk City count? There were 36 total tornadoes that day.

Note that May 7th 2016 Wray there were more than one tornado ...there was one by Eckley then two just south of Wray.
 

Jeff Duda

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A couple thoughts .... I can move this if needed.

2017 shows no events but would not May 16th 2017 – Mc Lean to Elk City count? There were 36 total tornadoes that day.

Note that May 7th 2016 Wray there were more than one tornado ...there was one by Eckley then two just south of Wray.
NCDC only shows 18 tornadoes between KS, TX, and OK, only a handful being EF2s and one EF3 in Kansas. I don't recall many of those tornadoes being particularly photogenic. So idk if that is really worthy of a "event of the decade" type event.

And if anyone has pictures of the other tornadoes to post or link to so that a closer look can be made at this event, then please post them and justify your case for adding that.
 
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I think we were lucky this decade to see some amazing storms ... here are my top ones in each category.

Meteorological significance:
2013-05-31 El Reno (size along with turn to the NE with speed increasing)

Chase quality:
2016-05-24 Dodge City (When people forget how many tornadoes they saw it’s a great day)

Human impact:
2011-05-22 Joplin (158 deaths with 1150 injured and 2.8 billion in damages from ONE tornado)
 

Mark Blue

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Chase Quality: 5/22/10 Bowdle. A classic supercell in a flat region that was moving slowly for quite some time. 6/16/10 Dupree. Fits the same scenario as Bowdle but this one was stationary. It’s hard to beat big, fat, wedge tornadoes in SD. When you can just sit and film it makes for much better footage that isn’t shaky or shot from the car window.

Meteorological Significance: 5/24/11 I-35 Threesome. I believe others in this category such as El Reno (5/31/13) are hard to beat, but having experienced May 24th firsthand burned an indelible experience into my mind that I’ll never forget. There is something about these High Risk OK events that are scary and head and shoulders above all others. The sky turned shades of green I’ve never seen before as the 3 supercellular complexes moved in unison that night.

Human Impact: 5/22/11 Joplin. It’s hard to argue against an F5 that hit Joplin head on and shredded it like it was a paper city. 5/31/13 El Reno also changed the chaser community because of the deaths and very close calls others had with this huge supercell. Younger chasers take heed. These OK monsters are not to be taken lightly. They mean business once they reach maturity and it’s best to keep a safe distance above all else.
 
Chase quality: Campo, May 31, 2010. The perfect chase - open terrain, very slow motion, all aspects of severe encountered, topped off by one of the most photogenenic tornadoes of all time.

Meteorological significance: Although El Reno rings hard in my head (having, like many others, been there and being too near at some point), I have to go with April 27, 2011...the 'perfect' ingredients, at the high end of the CAPE/Shear diagram, was an extremely rare set-up.

Human impact: Again, El Reno is deep in my mind, as is Joplin (for a single tornado, this must be the top), overall I think April 27, 2011 tops it for me (a dubious accolade, of course, in this category). The sheer number of folk impacted, and also who were at risk on this historic day, means I think it is the top.
 

Wes George

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Moderator note: This event was added to the list in the OP

I agree with all of the submissions, but I'm a bit surprised the November 17th 2013 outbreak isn't mentioned. It's meteorological significance is great due to being a very large off season outbreak for the Midwest, particularly Illinois and Indiana. The outbreak is responsible for the Washington IL EF4 and the New Minden IL EF4. The Washington EF4 was noteworthy not only for it's strength and location for the time of year, but it was well documented not just by chasers and spotters, but by numerous residents as the tornado passed through and very near the Peoria suburbs, making the human impact near the top of the charts, with 121 injuries, and 3 fatalities. The high end EF4 featured an impressive radar signature with a debris ball. The supercell dumped debris from the Peoria suburbs onto the Chicago suburbs, over 100 miles away. The Nov 13th outbreak featured a rare High Risk outlook issuance from the SPC, as well as a PDS Tornado watch. These facts are once again particularly noteworthy given the location and time of year. The outbreak also featured numerous instances of straight line winds measuring over 100Mph, and 4" hail in parts of central IL. The outbreak caused nearly 200 injuries, 11 fatalities, and approximately $1.6 billion in damage with the Washington EF4 alone being responsible for approximately $1 billion of that total. SPC_Storm_Reports_17_Nov_2013.png November_17,_2013_High_Risk.gif
 

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Jeff Duda

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Last call on this before I start tabulating votes and putting up a final vote. I was really hoping there would be more discussion on this, but it appears many are choosing not to participate. If that tendency holds, I will likely weight the opinions of those who do respond less than equally. So, come on, peeps! If you were around in the 2010s following severe weather, and especially if you chased at all or personally witnessed any of the events proposed...this is your chance to advocate and opine as to the greatest events of the past decade! I was thinking of making some kind of podcast or video discussing or highlighting the remarkable aspects of the top events (PM me if interested in partaking). I think this would work the best if it was supported by a quorum of Stormtrack.
 

James K

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I can't really comment since I've never been chasing...but this does sound like a cool little project. I'd deff watch the resulting YouTube video(if you do one) when its all complete.

(as a side note, if I had to pick just 1 storm, it'd be the 2013 El Reno ... simply because of the fact that's by far the one I've watched the most videos of on YouTube)
 
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Nelson Daniel

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I have not been chasing long so I can't contribute to this as much as I would like to but there is one day and storm that should be considered for that 2015 list. It was December 26th 2015, with the Dallas County - Rowlett EF-4. It was the reason I started chasing, the wife and I spent a good portion of that day dodging torwarned cells (https://www.weather.gov/images/fwd/dec26outbreak/img/maps/all_sbw_poly.png). We ended up taking a 3 hr detour to get home and shortly after arriving we hear that 10 people were killed as the their vehicles were blown off the interstate overpass that we were on just a few minutes before. It was a nighttime monster but there is some decent footage out there, some showing excellent storm structure with horizontal vortices (captured at night!). It was no Joplin for Human impact but it was massive for the DFW area and deserves a spot for 2015.

Also not much love for Wray, that has got to be some of the sweetest footage out there. Also the twin Pilger EF-4 wedges should have their own category for ominous beauty, especially when that rope started circling the wedge and there was a perfect positive strike...was just an amazing thing to see on so many chaser videos. Might even prefer it to the gorgeous Dodge City outbreak.
 
Chase Quality:

1. Rozel, KS, 2013 - Spectacular tornado, slow-moving, during prime chase season. I am probably biased by the fact that I consider this my best chase ever.
2. Dodge City Outbreak, 2016 - Numerous tornadoes, occurred during prime chase season. For me, not quite as good a chase as Rozel because I misjudged the storms movement and ended up a little too far away. Still managed to see 6 of the tornadoes, though.
3. Campo, CO, 2010 - Even though I was unable to chase that day due to having concert tickets. One of the most spectacular tornadoes ever, and it just sat there and let people come to it.

Meteorological Significance

1. Super-outbreak of 2011, for sheer number and strength of tornadoes. Only a handful of comparable events in history.
2. El Reno, 2013, due to the size and unusual movement of the tornado.

Human Impact:

1. Joplin, 2011 - Most deadly, destructive tornado in recent history.
2. Super-outbreak of 2011 - This, along with the Joplin tornado the following month, was very humbling to those of us who thought great progress had been made on preventing tornado deaths.
3. El Reno, 2013 - Greatest human impact on the chaser community.
 
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