Story of truck carried 27 miles by tornado is debunked

Story of truck carried 27 miles by tornado is debunked

Credit: Mark Wilson, Getty Images

Mark Wade looks through debris after the area was hit by a tornado April 29, 2014, in Vilonia, Arkansas.

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by USA Today

khou.com

Posted on May 9, 2014 at 12:30 AM

Let's call it a mistake, not a hoax: The story of the pickup truck reportedly carried 27 miles by a tornado last week in Arkansas is false.

A pickup truck reportedly was picked up by a tornado April 27 in Mayflower, Ark., and carried to near Vilonia, Ark., according to meteorologist Darby Bybee of KHBS-TV in Fort Smith. But it didn't happen:

"The story was the result of confusion on the part of the truck owner," said National Weather Service meteorologist James LaDue. "I don't know how, but he apparently was confused about the starting location of his truck. Therefore the story has been debunked."

There was healthy skepticism when the story first came out: "That's so far beyond reasonable that I don't know anyone in the tornado community that thinks it's believable," said tornado researcher Harold Brooks, a meteorologist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla.

Randy Cerveny, a geography professor at Arizona State University, said, "I haven't heard of trucks being thrown that far." He did know of other large objects tossed a short distance, though, such as trains and cars.

An 1877 tornado in Illinois reportedly carried "the spire, vane and guilded ball of a Methodist church" 15 miles, according to Cerveny's book Freaks of the Storm.

The world record for an object thrown farthest by a tornado: A personal check was carried 223 miles on April 11, 1991, from Stockton, Kan., to Winnetoon, Neb.

The Arkansas tornado carried winds of at least 180 mph, traveled 41 miles on a path that included Mayflower and Vilonia, Ark., and killed 16 people.

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