Drivers whip around NASCAR tracks at speeds comparable to the most powerful US storms

NASCAR cars drive at speeds as strong as an EF-3 tornado and powerful Category 5 hurricane

More than 101,000 racing fans will pack into the Daytona International Speedway on Sunday afternoon for this year’s Daytona 500.

When the green flag is waved, 40 cars will take off on a 200-lap journey to vie for the coveted Harley J. Earl trophy.

But they won't be going the speed limit. The average speed a NASCAR car drives during the race is around 200 mph.

That speed is as strong as winds in an EF-3 tornado, or faster than the strongest hurricane in terms of wind speed to ever hit the United States.

Take a look at some storms with strong wind speeds compared to the speed of a NASCAR car.

Tornadoes

Moore, Oklahoma

On May 20, 2013, a tornado outbreak occurred and produced the most deadly and devastating tornado of the year for Oklahoma and the United States, according to the National Weather Service.

An EF-5 tornado with winds of 210 mph tore through the community of Moore, Oklahoma and parts of southern Oklahoma City.  In all, 24 people were killed by the violent tornado.

Joplin, Missouri

On May 22, 2011, one of the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history struck the town of Joplin, Missouri.

The EF-5 tornado had winds over 200 mph. In total, 158 people were killed and more than 1,000 people were injured.

According to the National Weather Service, the Joplin tornado was the first single tornado that resulted in over 100 deaths since the Flint, Michigan, tornado in 1953.

Bridge Creek-Moore, Oklahoma

On May 3, 1999, a total of 74 tornadoes touched down across two states in less than 24 hours.

One of those tornadoes was an EF-5 that produced the strongest winds ever recorded, according to NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center.

Winds were estimated to be about 301 mph.

The tornado was on the ground for nearly an hour and a half, cutting a 38-mile path of destruction through Chickasha, south Oklahoma City and the suburbs of Bridge Creek, Newcastle, Moore, Midwest City and Del City, Oklahoma, according to the National Weather Service.

In total, 46 people were killed and more than 800 people were injured.

Tuscaloosa-Birmingham, Alabama

On April 27, 2011, an EF-4 tornado with winds of 190 mph touched down in Greene County, Alabama, and was on the ground for more than 80 miles cutting a path of destruction through Tuscaloosa and the Birmingham area.

At its strongest, the National Weather Service says the tornado was 1.5 miles wide.

A total of 65 people were killed and at least 1,500 people were injured.


Mayfield, Kentucky

On December 10, 2021, a tornado outbreak occurred in America's heartland.

One of those tornadoes, which tore through the community of Mayfield, Kentucky, was rated an EF-4 and was on the ground for 165.7 miles between the Kentucky/Tennessee border and Beaver Dam, Kentucky.

The tornado had winds of 190 mph and was on the ground for nearly three hours.

Hurricanes

Labor Day Hurricane

In early September 1935, a powerful storm that would later be known as the Labor Day Hurricane swept across the Florida Keys with winds of at least 185 mph.

It’s estimated that more than 400 people were killed by the storm.

Hurricane Camille

On the night of August 17, 1969, Hurricane Camille made landfall near Waveland, Mississippi, as a Category 5 storm.

The National Weather Service estimates the storm had winds of about 175 mph when it made landfall and caused a storm surge of 24.6 feet.

Nearly 260 people were killed as a result of the storm.

Hurricane Andrew

Hurricane Andrew was a powerful Category 5 hurricane that slammed into South Florida on August 24, 1992, with winds of 165 mph.

A total of 65 people were killed as a result of the storm.

Hurricane Michael

On October 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael slammed into Mexico Beach, Florida, as a powerful Category 5 storm with winds of 160 mph.

It was the first Category 5 storm to hit the United States since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

It was also the strongest storm to hit the Florida Panhandle and the second Category 5 to hit the Gulf Coast. The first was Hurricane Camille in 1969.

According to NOAA, Hurricane Michael produced devastating winds and storm surge and was directly responsible for 16 deaths in the United States. 

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