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Some of the fastest winds ever recorded on Earth are produced by US tornadoes

A tornado that tore it apart US city in May produced some of the fastest winds ever recorded on Earth, according to new data.

Scientists at the University of Illinois set up a mobile radar station during a wave of severe thunderstorms Greenfield, Iowa on May 21st.

At the height of the tornado’s deadly power, they calculated ground wind speeds of up to 309-318 mph (497-512 km/h).

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A tornado that tore through a US city in May produced some of the fastest winds ever recorded on Earth, according to new data. (CSU/CIRA and NOAA)
Damage is seen after a tornado moved through Greenfield, Iowa, Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Hannah Fingerhut) (AP)

This would make the Greenfield, Iowa tornado one of the most powerful tornadoes ever recorded.

The researchers noted that because the tornado was very small and moving very quickly, peak speeds were only experienced for less than a second.

Several deaths and some injuries were reported in the small town of Greenfield, about 80 kilometers southwest of Des Moines, Iowa.

“Measurements resulted in determinations of peak wind speeds in excess of 300 mph (482 km/h) in only two other tornadoes,” the researchers said.

The strongest winds recorded during a tornado were in 2013 in El Reno, Oklahoma, where the highest wind speed was measured at a maximum of 336 miles per hour (540 km/h).

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People search through debris from homes damaged by a tornado, Wednesday, May 22, 2024, in Greenfield, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) (AP)

The US National Weather Service (NWS) has rated the Greenfield, Iowa tornado as an EF-4 tornado – the second highest category on the six-level Fujita (EF) scale.

The NWS estimated that the Greenfield tornado had a slightly lower peak of (175 to 188 mph) based on damage seen around the city.

They also noted that further analysis is needed so they can refine their statistics further.

The Greenfield tornado came as the US saw an unusually active tornado season.

In May 2024, at least one tornado occurred somewhere in the US almost every day.