# What are the Theoretical Limits for Tornado Size and Strength

Is there a theoretical physical limit that we can calculate with regards to Tornado formation? At what size and strength is a hypothetical tornado physically impossible.

The largest tornado in recorded history was the El Reno tornado at 2.6 miles wide on May 31, 2013. The fastest wind speeds ever recorded were 301 miles per hour in Moore OK May 3, 1999.

*Edit for clarity: How would the physical properties of air constrain the size and strength of a tornado and can we estimate the largest and strongest tornado physically possible?

• The association I can make is with the idea given in Eq. 4.22b, page 106, by James Holton, where he explains how the signal of divergence/convergence constrains anti-cyclonic disturbances. A tornado, however, is a cyclone in essence. Not sure it helps. – ouranos Jul 1 '17 at 13:30
• A slight note: the Moore tornado is traditionally listed as 301+-20 mph (to account for uncertainties in the radar?). RaxPol found 302 mph aloft and 295 mph within 10 m of the ground for El Reno. The Wiki articles on the topic slightly mention these facts, I'm sure there's more in literature! In the end, they're similar, so it really doesn't mean anything to the question, just something of note to some :-) – JeopardyTempest Jul 1 '17 at 18:20
• Not sure if my last comment was based upon personal correspondence with one of the RaxPol folks or just digging into a few simple sources like Wikipedia, but I did a more thorough digging into literature when answering this question. Your values were better after all :-) – JeopardyTempest Sep 29 '17 at 7:15