How meteorologists measure tornadoes


A tornado touches down southwest of Wichita, Kan. near the town of Viola on Sunday, May 19, 2013. The tornado was part of a line of storms that past through the central plains on Sunday. (AP Photo/The Wichita Eagle, Travis Heying)

A tornado touches down southwest of Wichita, Kan. near the town of Viola on Sunday, May 19, 2013. The tornado was part of a line of storms that past through the central plains on Sunday. (AP Photo/The Wichita Eagle, Travis Heying)

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn (WVLT) -- A tornado is often considered the most powerful storm on earth wind speed can exceed too miles per hour. We classify these tornadoes based on what's called the Enhanced Fujita scale. We end up having damage, a lot of it in many cases, from tornadoes. We go assess that damage and give it a strength rating, EF0 to EF5 and estimated wind speeds go along with that.

For instance, EF0 is the weakest of all tornadoes if you will. Wind speed of 65 to 85 miles per hour happen with them. And that's the same as a category one hurricane. Minor damage happens such as shingles coming off our house, gutters and siding getting some damage, branches getting broken off some small trees. Even those small trees can be uprooted along with small bushes too.

Ef1 is the next on the list. Wind speed of 86 to 110 miles per hour produces moderate damage. Roofs are severely stripped from houses. A lot of the shingles if not all of them end up ripping off the house with tornado speeds of this magnitude. Mobile homes get overturned. The precise reason why not to be in a mobile home during a tornado warning. We lose our doors and we lose our windows as glass starts to fly around as it gets broken.

Wind of 111 to 135 miles per hour is a categorized as an EF2. Considerable damage happens then. Our rooves of our houses can be torn off. Also the house can shift on its foundation. Mobile homes get destroyed. Large trees get uprooted.

Wind of 136 to 165 miles per hour, an EF3, causes severe damage. Entire second stories of homes get destroyed. Also some of the cars can be lifted up and thrown somewhat.

Wind of 166 to 200 miles per hour winds, EF4. Less than 1 percent of all tornadoes get this classification, causing devastating damage, whole houses are leveled, cars are thrown up to 300 feet and a lot of debris gets to be thrown around with these particular storms, and this tornado that happened yesterday in Moore Oklahoma has been classified as EF5.

Its the most devastating tornado on earth. Wind in excess of 200 miles per hour causes extreme damage, multiple houses get leveled. Concrete structures even get badly damaged. If it happens in a big city, high rise buildings get damage and can throw cars over 300 feet.

This is precisely the magnitude of a tornado that happened in Joplin just two years ago that killed over 160 people.


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