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Top 10 Tornado Videos

Top 10 Tornado Videos

Every year, there are over one thousand tornadoes in the United States alone – only a small fraction of those are seen, and an even smaller fraction are recorded on video. After a painstaking voting session by our editorial team, we compiled a list of the Top 10 Tornado Videos ever, and we think you’ll be amazed at what people have captured:


10. Lookeba, Oklahoma – 5/24/2011

There are a handful of large F/EF-5 wedges that have been filmed before. Not many people get video of the tornado while trying to beat it before it crosses a road. While we don’t recommend getting this close to any tornado, this footage provides an up close look at one of the most violent forces in nature.



9. Albert Lea, Minnesota – 6/10/2010

Quick disclaimer: Skip Talbot is a member of Storm Assist, so it might seem a little unfair that his video has made it onto this list. He also felt that other videos were more worthy and asked for it to be removed. Not going to happen, Skip – this footage from Minnesota’s historic outbreak is some of the best structure and coloring you will ever see in a tornadic storm.



#8 Roanoke, Illinois 7/13/2004

A regular bystander with a camcorder in the right place at the right time captures a large tornado up close. Did I mention that he also does it without cursing, shouting, panicking, or making a fool of himself? And keeps the camera relatively stable? Oh, he’s also got a broken leg.



#7 Wilkin County, Minnesota 8/7/2010

Minnesota on the list twice? With three EF-4s and 104 total, leading the country in 2010, it was a busy year for the North Plains. The late Andy Gabrielson had a lot of videos that probably could have made it onto this list, but this video remains the crowning achievement in an amazing portfolio of work. Captured from wall cloud to barn-ripping EF-4, Andy got the shot as (usual), and lost a rear window in the process (as usual).



#6 Campo, Colorado 5/31/2010

An example of “you won’t see anything if you don’t chase” – many chasers sat home on this day as storms were not expected. The storm that went through Campo, Colorado rewarded patience and perseverance with a once in a lifetime show. Multiple angles of this tornado exist, but we feel this particular video best captures the beauty of a tornado in an open field.



#5 Dupree, South Dakota 6/16/2010

Although the official tally is four, this storm spawned so many tornadoes, some have said it was closer to sixteen. On a day where many chasers decided to sit out due to minimal odds, Roger Hill’s tour group scored big time and documented some fascinating interaction between multiple tornadoes and vortices from the same parent supercell.



#4 Manchester, South Dakota 6/24/2003 *Language warning*

Between this and the 5/3/1999 overpass video, Reed Timmer made a name for himself as a storm chaser that gets amazing footage. This tornado literally wiped the town of Manchester off the map, causing surviving residents to pack up and move elsewhere, leaving behind little more than a monument and a few abandoned buildings. While the Moore/Bridge Creek tornado was likely more powerful, this video wins out by comparison with crisp, detailed motion and structure, and the always-amusing “Back up!” dialog. You probably shouldn’t play this video at work without headphones as some of the language is not work-appropriate.



#3 Mulvane, Kansas 6/12/2004

This video was taken by Scott Currens with the late Eric Nguyen; you may have seen Eric’s picture on calendars in bookstores before. The iconic image of a thin, white, front-lit tornado destroying a house in front of a dark blue sky and rainbow may never be topped, and reminds us that no matter how beautiful storms are – they can easily destroy property and lives.



#2 Tuscaloosa, Alabama 4/27/2011

There’s a lot of background talking, shaky camera work, and hiding behind doors. None of that detracts from this video, and we certainly won’t hold it against the person that took the video. Amazing amateur video taken of the Tuscaloosa EF-4 as it made its way through a residential area. You can easily make out the horizontal vortices, and the debris flying around as it gets closer really shows the power of a large tornado even outside of the direct circulation.


and the top tornado video of all time…



#1 Columbus, Nebraska 6/23/1998

The individual filming isn’t shouting curse words and panicking in a crazy fashion – he’s doing the exact opposite. For a non-chaser bystander to capture the best tornado footage and remain calm as a violent tornado makes a direct path to his house is quite a feat.

This F-2 would have likely been rated higher if it had actually hit any structures. As it occurred, however, it roped out and dissipated right at the feet of the videographer.

Two things contribute to the appeal of this video. The high contrast backlit tornado looks great with the fiery orange sunset behind it, and really shows off the tendrils snaking around violently. The video also captures the dramatic ropeout from directly underneath the mesocyclone. The second part is that this video was almost lost to the public, and only existed in private collections for several years. Thankfully, it has made its way onto YouTube for all to enjoy.



Did we forget a video that should have been included, or do you disagree with the ranking? Let us know your thoughts in a comment below!

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