Visualizing the May 2013 Moore, Oklahoma, Tornado

Radar image of the 2013 Moore, Oklahoma, tornado debris field

The debris signature of the 2013 Moore, Oklahoma, tornado as detected from the Oklahoma City weather radar.

Weather radar is a type of instrumentation that can detect and locate precipitation, calculate its motion, and estimate its type such as rail, snow, or hail. The data gained from these weather radar can then be analyzed to determine the structure of storms and the severe weather they cause.

The Oklahoma City weather radar, or KTLX, is about 13 miles directly east of the Moore, Oklahoma, tornado, and it observed the entire life of the tornado from 2:56 p.m. to 3:35 p.m. Central Time on May 20, 2013. The KTLX weather radar took 14 different elevation scans of the atmosphere between 3:16 p.m. and 3:20 p.m., detecting the tornado debris as it moved eastward.

NCDC scientists used the Weather and Climate Toolkit to produce multiple visualizations of the tornado and its devastation based on the data from the KTLX weather radar. In these visualizations, the vertical scans are exaggerated by a factor of two, making them easier to see. Google Earth is also used to display the data in three dimensions. Click the links below to download and view the visualizations of the Moore, Oklahoma, tornado produced by NCDC.

Learn more about the Weather and Climate Toolkit.