Survey of Mayfield tornado will likely take several days to finish

Team of experts in high-end tornadoes being brought in to survey damage

MAYFIELD, Ky. – It will likely take several days to determine the official rating of a tornado that decimated parts of southwestern Kentucky on Friday night.

Officials at the National Weather Service office in Paducah, Kentucky, said the twister first touched down about 9 p.m. Central near Cayce, Kentucky. The twister tracked through Mayfield a short time later, before continuing northeast to Beaver Dam.

In total, officials believe the entire tornadic event in the region lasted for about two hours.

Mayfield was one of the hardest-hit places along the path of this long-track tornado. That is where much of downtown was left unrecognizable to some who have lived there for years. A candle factory was destroyed by the cyclone. Officials have said at least 21 people have been killed in Graves County, where Mayfield is located.

NWS officials said they have already seen damage that is consistent with at least an EF-3 tornado. That would put winds in at least 158-206 mph range. However, a team of experts who specialize in high-end tornadoes (EF-4, EF-5) is being brought in to survey the damage and help make a final determination.

Those experts include people who helped develop the EF-4/EF-5 criteria.

According to the NWS, survey teams are "working with a fine-tooth comb" to assess the damage. Teams from surrounding offices are also in the region helping to conduct storm surveys.

NWS officials told FOX Weather Tuesday that it may be next week before the survey for this massive tornado is complete.