Tornado categories and the enhanced fujita scale
Last updated: November 2023
Have you ever wondered how meteorologists measure tornado intensity? They rank tornadoes using the Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale, an updated version of the original Fujita Tornado Scale developed by Tetsuya T. Fujita in 1971, according to the National Weather Service.
Watch this video to learn about the six categories of the EF tornado scale, from EF0 to EF5, and the damage that may occur at each level.
The EF Scale ranks how extreme a tornado was after its impact has been determined, says Weather.com. The scale was developed to help rate tornado intensity because tornadoes have the potential to destroy nearly any weather instrument placed in their path making it difficult to obtain an active tornado's exact wind measurements.
Each category in the EF Scale has been assigned an estimated wind speed and damage impact. The categories range from EF0 (lowest intensity) to EF5 (highest intensity), says the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The experts who created the scale used their knowledge of how wind speeds could cause certain types of damage to help develop the estimates, says Weather.com. For example, the scale says a category 1 tornado has estimated wind speeds of 86 to 110 mph and can cause moderate damage, such as the loss of exterior home doors and windows, or a severely stripped roof.
Want to learn more about tornadoes and how you can help keep your family safe? Keep reading to learn how to prepare for tornado season, how to pick a storm shelter in your home and see tips for inspecting your home after a tornado strikes.