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Weather Talk: Tornadoes can reach 300 mph

The strongest tornadoes can produce winds of around 300 mph which are capable of destroying all but specially designed, tornado-proof structures.

Fortunately, tornadoes this powerful are also quite rare. The most common tornadoes produce wind speeds ranging between 80 and 135 mph. Such storms are, obviously, capable of doing significant damage, but usually in rather narrow paths.

Severe thunderstorm winds also vary greatly. A typical, non-severe thunderstorm might produce brief 20-40 mph wind gusts along its leading gust front. On occasion, straight line winds from a powerful thunderstorm can reach speeds of more than 120 mph. 

Tuesday evening’s storms produced straight line winds as strong as 100 mph. The storms also produced several tornadoes, but the vast majority of the damage was from straight line winds due to the fact that straight line winds affected much more of the region.

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