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Tornado Categories and the Enhanced Fujita Scale

Published: April 2020

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.

Video Transcript

— [VIDEO OPENS ON A CARTOON ILLUSTRATION OF A RESIDENTIAL STREET AND FOCUSES ON A HOUSE, DETACHED GARAGE AND VEHICLE.]

— [ONSCREEN TEXT]: How Are Tornadoes Rated?

— [MALE NARRATOR]: How can you tell how severe a tornado is?

— [GRAY PIECES GATHER TOGETHER ON THE SCREEN TO FORM A CARTOON TORNADO. IT MOVES AROUND ON THE SCREEN.]

— The Enhanced Fujita (or EF) Scale explains how fast the winds are and what type of damage you may expect.

— [THE CARTOON TORNADO BLOWS ACROSS THE SCREEN TO THE LEFT AND THE LEVELS OF THE EF SCALE APPEAR.]

— [ONSCREEN TEXT]: EF5 — 201+ mph, incredible damage

— [ONSCREEN TEXT]: EF4 — 166-200 mph, extreme damage

— [ONSCREEN TEXT]: EF3 — 136-165 mph, severe damage

— [ONSCREEN TEXT]: EF2 — 111-135 mph, considerable damage

— [ONSCREEN TEXT]: EF1 — 86-110 mph, moderate damage

— [ONSCREEN TEXT]: EF0 — 65-85 mph, minor damage

— [TORNADO CARTOON RE-ENTERS AND MOVES ACROSS THE SCREEN FROM LEFT TO RIGHT. THE CARTOON HOUSE, GARAGE AND VEHICLE REAPPEAR ONSCREEN.]

— [ONSCREEN TEXT]: EF0 — 65-85 mph, minor damage

— A tornado measuring EF0 has winds estimated at 65 to 85 miles per hour and may cause minor damage to a home. Chimneys may suffer minor cracks and roof shingles could fly off.

— [VIDEO ZOOMS IN TO SHOW A FEW MISSING SHINGLES FROM THE HOME'S ROOF AND CRACKS IN THE CHIMNEY.]

— [TORNADO CARTOON APPEARS AND MOVES ACROSS THE SCREEN FROM LEFT TO RIGHT. THE CARTOON HOUSE NOW HAS MORE SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE.]

— [ONSCREEN TEXT]: EF1 — 86-110 mph, moderate damage

— An EF1 tornado has winds from 86 to 110 miles per hour and may cause moderate damage. A home may lose part of its roofing — in particular, the edges of roof overhangs and corners, where wind forces are often most intense.

— [VIDEO PANS OUT ON THE HOME, SHOWING PIECES OF THE ROOF ON THE GROUND AND ADDITIONAL CRACKS IN THE CHIMNEY.]

— [TORNADO CARTOON ENTERS AND MOVES ACROSS THE SCREEN FROM LEFT TO RIGHT.]

— [ONSCREEN TEXT]: EF2 — 111-135 mph, considerable damage

— [THE CARTOON HOUSE NOW SHOWS EXTENSIVE DAMAGE AND IS MISSING ITS ENTIRE ROOF AND CHIMNEY. THE WINDOWS ON THE HOUSE ARE BROKEN AND THE HOME'S FRONT AND GARAGE DOORS ARE MISSING.]

— Next up is a tornado rated EF2, which can produce winds from 111 to 135 miles per hour. With this category of tornado, there may be considerable damage. The entire roof of a home may be torn off. Exterior doors can be blown off and windows could break.

— [VIDEO ZOOMS IN ON THE DAMAGED HOME.]

— [TORNADO CARTOON REAPPEARS AND MOVES ACROSS THE SCREEN FROM LEFT TO RIGHT.]

— [ONSCREEN TEXT]: EF3 — 136-165 mph, severe damage

— [THE CARTOON HOUSE IS NOW MISSING ITS SECOND FLOOR AND A FIRST FLOOR WALL. THERE IS HOME DEBRIS SCATTERED AROUND THE YARD AND THE VEHICLE IS ROLLED OVER IN THE FRONT YARD.]

— An EF3 tornado has wind speeds between 136 and 165 miles per hour. Damage from an EF3 tornado may be severe and can include entire stories of homes being blown off and the first floor walls of a home toppling down. A detached garage may go flying through the air as well. Cars and other vehicles may also be tossed through the air.

— [TORNADO CARTOON APPEARS AND MOVES ACROSS THE SCREEN FROM LEFT TO RIGHT.]

— [ONSCREEN TEXT]: EF4 — 166-200 mph, extreme damage

— [THE CARTOON HOUSE HAS BEEN DESTROYED AND REMINENTS OF THE HOUSE ARE SCATTERED AROUND THE YARD. THE DETACHED GARAGE AND VEHICLE ARE ALSO DESTROYED.]

— A tornado rated EF4 has winds from 166 to 200 miles per hour. It may cause extreme damage. Some homes may be removed from their foundation and completely destroyed.

— [RAIN IS FALLING FROM THE SKY AND THE VIDEO ZOOMS IN ON THE REMAINING PIECES OF THE HOME.]

— [TORNADO CARTOON REAPPEARS AND MOVES ACROSS THE SCREEN FROM LEFT TO RIGHT. A NEIGHBORHOOD OF DESTROYED CARTOON HOMES APPEARS.]

— [ONSCREEN TEXT]: EF5 — 201+ mph, incredible damage

— [THE HOMES ARE DESTROYED AND THERE ARE REMINENTS OF THE HOUSES SCATTERED ACROSS THE NEIGHBORHOOD STREET. THERE ARE VEHICLES AND RUBBLE SCATTERED THROUGHOUT THE NEIGHBORHOOD.]

— At the top of the scale is the most intense type of tornado: an EF5. With wind speeds of over 200 miles per hour, an EF5 tornado can cause incredible damage. Entire neighborhoods could be destroyed.

— [TORNADO CARTOON APPEARS AND MOVES ACROSS THE SCREEN FROM LEFT TO RIGHT. THE SCREEN TURNS TO BLUE.]

— [ALLSTATE LOGO APPEARS.]

— To learn more about tornadoes, including safety tips, visit allstate.com/blog.

— [ONSCREEN TEXT]: Visit allstate.com/blog

— [SCREEN FADES AND THE VIDEO'S SOURCE LIST APPEARS.]

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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.

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ECC Monitor: OK