How common are violent tornadoes?
The monster tornado that tore through Moore, Oklahoma on Monday afternoon was likely a violent EF4 tornado, which can have wind gusts of up to 200 miles per hour. That kind of wind can flatten well-built homes and throw cars around like they weigh nothing.
Violent EF4 and EF5 tornadoes (which can have wind gusts greater than 200 mph) are extremely rare. They account for just one percent of all tornadoes. But they are responsible for 67 percent of all tornado deaths.
For comparison, the 2008 Suffolk tornado and the 2011 Bertie County tornado (which killed 11 people) were both classified as EF3 tornadoes, with winds between 136 and 165 miles per hour. The 2011 Gloucester County tornado (which killed three) was an EF2 storm, with winds of 111 to 135 miles per hour.