The tornado was rated F4 on the enhanced Fujita scale with winds of around 170 mph, but Cantore believes it was actually stronger. "It was moving so fast," Cantore explained, "the storm didn't really have time to sit around and chew up whatever it could have in it's path."
Despite the fact the tornado claimed ten lives in Mississippi, Cantore says the forward speed of the tornado probably prevented it dein being even more deadly.
"What makes it so historic," he said, "is that it stayed on the ground for an unprecedented 149 miles. The typical (tornado)track is about a mile, if that. When you consider something that lasted three hours...that is unthinkable. It is historic by many, many standards."
Cantore realizes many people who hear about tornadoes of this severity, might wonder if there might be any indication that severe weather is getting worse. He says no. "The physics of the atmosphere have not changed since the beginning of time," Cantore explained.
"The fact is technology is everywhere. You're lucky if you can go to the bathroom these days without somebody catching it on a cellphone. It's hard to hide from anything, and certainly a tornado of this size and magnitude is going to bring a lot of pictures in the media, you're going to see those, you're going to get firsthand accounts."
"One could say because of all that input, it seems like the storms are worse," Cantore said. Seventeen Mississippi counties remain under a state of emergency. The same storm system spawned tornadoes in Louisiana, Arkansas and Alabama, but none of them matched the strength and duration of the one that hit Choctaw County.
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