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Christmas 2016 North Pole, Alaska tornado

Duration

43 Minutes

Time It Formed

2:15 PM (AKST)

Time It Dissipated

2:58 PM (AKST)

Fujita Scale Rating

EF5

Maximum Winds

285 mph

Path Length

25 miles

Maximum Width

1.5 miles

Place(s) impacted

North Pole, Alaska

Damage Caused

$695 million (2016 USD)

Casualties Caused

290

The Christmas 2016 North Pole, Alaska tornado was a rare snownado, a tornado that forms in snowy weather conditions. It was the most powerful snownado on record. The tornado is known for striking a Christmas-themed place on the aforementioned day, striking a town called "North Pole" on December 25, 2016.

Meteorological history

On Christmas Eve, a major storm system moved into Central Alaska. With it, it brought a massive amount of snow as well as blizzard-like conditions. The next day, a powerful band of snowstorm entered the Fairbanks metro region at 2:00 AKST. In an unusual occurrence a supercell like structure formed within the southern reach of the band of snow, later developing a funnel cloud. The funnel cloud touched down south of Fairbanks at 2:15. It moved eastward, gradually intensifying in the process. The tornado reached EF3 at the time a tornado emergency was declared for the town of North Pole, Alaska, as the tornado was headed directly for the town. The tornado reached peak when it emerged within the town's boundaries, and it moved directly through the town. The carnage got extreme, with the tornado destroying a famous sign and raging through the decorated streets, and destroying the town's post office as well. This was all done when the tornado was a catastrophic EF5. The tornado moved generally northeast and was out of town by the time it was below EF3 status. The weakened tornado approached Pleasant Valley, but dissipated at 2:58 soon before it could reach that town. Overall - this was an absolutely unprecedented event; the unprepared residents and businesses suffered extreme losses, and this was considered among the costliest and deadliest events in recent Alaskan history.

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