How Do You Measure a Tornado?

The New Yorker o in the early aughts, scientists from Texas Tech University proposed an Enhanced Fujita scale (hence the “E.F.” designation), in which tornado damage was calibrated by meteorologists and building engineers across twenty-eight different types of buildings, as well as natural structures like trees. The severe damage done to buildings like the Plaza Towers Elementary School and Briarwood Elementary School, as well as the near total destruction of many single-family houses, enables scientists to categorize Monday’s tornado as an E.F.4—a violent, intense storm that nevertheless is not as bad as the most extreme kind of tornado, an E.F.5. The Enhanced Fujita scale came into use in 2007, and is now the official way to judge the impact of a tornado—at least, of the physical damage it causes.

o in the early aughts, scientists from Texas Tech University proposed an Enhanced Fujita scale (hence the “E.F.” designation), in which tornado damage was calibrated by meteorologists and building engineers across twenty-eight different types of buildings, as well as natural structures like trees. The severe damage done to buildings like the Plaza Towers Elementary School and Briarwood Elementary School, as well as the near total destruction of many single-family houses, enables scientists to categorize Monday’s tornado as an E.F.4—a violent, intense storm that nevertheless is not as bad as the most extreme kind of tornado, an E.F.5. The Enhanced Fujita scale came into use in 2007, and is now the official way to judge the impact of a tornado—at least, of the physical damage it causes.

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