NWS release preliminary data for Western Kentucky tornado, confirmed as EF-4

NWS release preliminary data for Western Kentucky tornado, confirmed as EF-4
Published: Dec. 15, 2021 at 4:23 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 15, 2021 at 7:07 PM CST
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PADUCAH, Ky. (WFIE) - The National Weather Service has released its findings for a tornado that destroyed several communities in the western part of Kentucky.

NWS officials say they have determined the tornado that traveled from Fulton County to Muhlenberg County as an EF-4 tornado.

Meteorologist Arden Gregory spoke with the National Weather Service earlier Wednesday about the process of determining these ratings.

Experts say one thing that’s important to note is tornado ratings are about intensity, not necessarily size.

According to a press release, the tornado reached estimated peak winds of 190 miles per hour and the length of its path was an estimated 128 miles.

So although this tornado carved a path of destruction through Kentucky for 128 miles, as well as more than a mile wide at some points, the rating is about using what along that path was destroyed to estimate the peak wind speeds. However, the scope of the destruction did make their job of determining those peak wind speeds a much harder and longer process.

“This is historical,” Pat Spoden, science and operations officer with NWS Paducah said. “So we’re putting in more details than we might do in a typical low-end tornado. This is something that has to be done as best as we can. It’s taking a little bit longer, but we have brought in teams because we can’t do it by ourselves.”

NWS officials say the worst amounts of damage along the tornado track were in Cayce, Mayfield, north of Benton, south of Princeton, Dawson Springs, Barnsley, Bremen and possibly others.

Officials say additional details will be released as they become available.

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