The Greensburg Tornado Essay

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On May 4, 2007, the town of Greensburg, Kansas was devastated by an exceptionally strong tornado. With maximum winds estimated to be in excess of 205 miles per hour, and leaving a damage path as wide as 1.7 miles, the storm would go on to be rated a rare EF5, the first recorded in the United States since 1999. When the storm finally subsided, 95 percent of Greensburg had been destroyed, killing eleven people.

<h3>The Setup</h3>
May 4 began in much the same way as many other spring days in the Great Plains. Cool, dry air from the north clashed with warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico, creating the sort of unstable atmosphere that is so common to "Tornado Alley." An intense low pressure system moved in and stalled over the area
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On the evening of May 4, atmospheric conditions made it possible for a number of these supercells to sustain themselves for long distances, spawning twisters in cycles across their path.

<h3>The Greensburg Tornado</h3>
After prompting several warnings across the area, storm chaser groups reported that a particularly violent supercell had spawned a funnel just southwest of Greensburg at 9:20 p.m. By 9:38 p.m., the storm had grown to a half-mile wide wedge as it approached the town, with several satellite vortices observed rotating around the main vortex. At 9:41 p.m., the National Weather Service station located in Dodge City, Kan. issued an emergency statement for the town of Greensburg, indicating the extreme peril of the situation.

Shortly after the emergency statement was issued, the storm entered the town near its peak strength. The twister stayed on the ground for a total of 22 miles, passing entirely through Greensburg and leaving 95 percent of the city destroyed, with the remaining five percent significantly damaged. Damage surveys done after the storm found areas in which significant damage extended well in excess of a mile in width. Maximum wind speeds were estimated at 205 miles per hour, though the extent and degree of damage don't rule out a significantly higher wind speed.

The Greensburg storm was unique for several reasons. In addition to its ferocious intensity, the structure of the storm as recorded by storm chasers and weather

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