Despite the awe-inspiring images of the EF3 tornado that swept through Laramie, WY, last week, the twister caused remarkably little damage. Aaron Voos, a local resident, who spotted the tornado as it touched down on the town while he was driving with his 6-year-old son, rang his wife at home to tell her to drive away with their 11-year-old son.
Though residents are normally advised to take cover in the basement when a tornado hits, Voos realized that given the tornado’s slow speed, his wife and son had plenty of time to meet up with him. Though official reports show that several homes were damaged, there were no injuries reported.
June is tornado season in Wyoming, and last week several were reported. One twister touched down for nearly an hour eight miles north of Laramie. The spectacular footage was captured on video by stormchaser James Hammett. According to Weather Channel meteorologist Tevin Wooten, “the low precipitation structure [of the tornado] allows for stunning visuals — in part because the tornado isn’t rain wrapped.”
Tornadoes are rapidly rotating columns of air that are connectt with the Earth’s surface, as well a cumulonimbus cloud, or the base of a cumulus cloud. The United States has more tornadoes than any other country due to its distinct geography that contributes to frequent collisions of warm and cold air, conditions that result in strong, long-lasting storms. Most tornadoes form in an area of Central United States, which is known as Tornado Alley.
The EF3 tornado touched down roughly eight miles north of Laramie at approximately 5:43 p.m. MDT, and continued spinning for 11 miles during the following 53 minutes, according to the National Weather Service. The tornado was the strongest on record in Albany County, Wyoming. The most destructive EF3 tornado in the area swept through Albany County on May 22, 2008, resulting in $300,000 in damage and one injured resident.
When the tornado hit, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a warning: "Tornado north of Laramie is still on the ground. As picturesque as it may look, we ask that you take shelter now. No picture is worth getting hurt."
The NSW reportedly shortly thereafter that "Numerous wooden power poles were snapped along County Road 121, along with several galvanized steel utility poles which were bent 90 degrees at the base. Grass was scoured out of the ground in a wide swath approximately one third of a mile in width near the intersection of County Road 121 and Cattle Drive."
The deadliest tornado on record was the Daulatpur–Saturia tornado in Bangladesh, which touched ground on April 26, 1989, killing roughly 1,300 people. Throughout its history, Bangladesh has had 19 tornadoes, which have resulted in the death of more than 100 people each time, nearly half of the total for the rest of the planet.