Gaylord Tornado – Strongest in the US in May


The tornado that struck Gaylord Mi on May 20 was the strongest tornado to occur during the month of May in the United States. I thought that might be the case, so I scoured the storm reports for May. There were no EF4 or EF5 tornadoes in the United States in May (for May 3 in a row). The Gaylord tornado had a peak wind of 150 mph (top photo is Michigan State Police drone video from the Nottingham Forest Trailer Park).

The other two strong EF3 tornadoes occurred on May 4 near Lockett, Texas and on May 30 near Altamont, South Dakota. Both of these tornadoes had peak winds of 140 mph. Thus, it appeared that the Gaylord tornado was the strongest tornado in the United States during the month of May. To verify my work, I emailed the Storm Prediction Center and received this response the next day from Jared Guyer, a chief forecaster at SPC.

Gaylord the strongest tornado in the United States in May – confirmed by SPC

Images are 1) The tornado, looking west down M-32 on the west side of Gaylord 2) Radar, showing the supercell and the classic “echo hook” 3) D-sized hail a baseball in Grand Lake east of Posen MI 4) Map of tornado path through Gaylord MI.

I was then curious to know if the Gaylord tornado was the strongest tornado in the world in the month of May. There were two strong tornadoes in Europe – also on May 20. Both of these tornadoes happened in Germany at Lippstadt and Paderborn, where they still use the old F scale to measure tornado winds. There are great videos of these tornadoes on YouTube. Both of these tornadoes are rated F2 with winds between 113 and 157 mph. I couldn’t find a specific peak wind.

So I can’t say for sure, but I would say it’s likely that the fastest wind in the world in May 2022 happened in Gaylord, Michigan.

If you had told me back in April that the fastest wind on earth – the entire planet – would be in a strong EF3 tornado in Gaylord MI – I would have told you the odds were that…the Detroit Tigers would win the World Series, the Detroit Lions winning the Super Bowl, the Detroit Red Winds winning the Stanley Cup, and Bill Steffen picking a perfect NCAA Basketball Tournament draw ALL in the SAME YEAR!

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