Throughout history, there have been examples of outstanding human ingenuity. From triumphs of historic proportions to others that fell under the radar, examples of seemingly unbelievable achievement have astounded and captured our imaginations. Yet another feat of human engineering occurred recently. Although it did not receive the attention of other great achievements, what happened on May 31, 2013, boggles the mind nonetheless.
That day, a monstrous tornado touched down west of Oklahoma City. At maximum intensity, wind speed reached 296 mph, making it nearly an F-6 on the Enhanced Fujita scale. Those wind gusts came close to matching the highest wind speed ever measured on Earth. A tornado that struck Moore, Okla., in 1999, produced gusts of 301 mph. The May 31 tornado was only the eighth tornado of F5 magnitude to be measured in Oklahoma since 1950.
This storm was a monster. Its width reached a maximum distance of 2.6 miles, making it the widest tornado in recorded history. It was on the ground for 40 minutes, covering a distance of 16.2 miles.
The tornado killed 18 people, including four storm chasers.
Amidst the loss of life and extensive property damage, the unthinkable happened. Despite taking a direct hit from the massive tornado, two wind turbines at the Canadian Valley Technology Center stood intact after the storm passed. Amazingly, the turbines, on 85- and 126-foot towers – both fully constructed and used for educational purposes – did not suffer any visible damage.