Enhanced Fujita Scale measures tornado intensity - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Tornado intensity explained


Since 1950, the National Weather Service has recorded 58 F5 and EF5 tornadoes.  

No. 50 was the tornado that struck Moore, OK, in 1999. The EF or Enhanced Fujita Scale has been used since February 2007. It applies several more factors to determine the level in which a tornado is classified.  

The scale uses a kind of checks-and-balance system. Wind speed is and has always been a factor - but the enhanced scale takes into account the degree of damage and 28 damage indicators.

EF 0/1 – The NWS determined an EF0 tornado came down in the Pine Ridge subdivision in Bluffton in April 2010. Winds were at least 65 mph. NWS crews found trees uprooted and limbs torn off - the basic indicators of an EF 0. 

EF 1/2 - An EF1 tornado touched down in parts of Chatham County in June 2008. With winds that ranged from 86-110 mph, the twister toppled trees - tore off the now iconic Lake Mayer Church of Christ steeple. 

EF 2/3 - The Ebenezer community in Effingham County experienced an EF2 tornado St. Patrick's Day weekend in 2008. An EF2 can pack winds of 111-135 mph. Forty homes were destroyed.

EF 3/4 - Just this year in Adairsville, GA, an EF3 ripped through the city - killing one person. Just like the others, it toppled trees and power lines and damaged buildings. This twister also overturned cars and tractor-trailers. 

EF 4/5 - Who could forget the Mother's Day tornadoes in Darien?  Buildings  in the McIntosh Industrial Park were reduced to rubble and so was the county EMS building, the Gateway Treatment Facility, a boat shop and the Ridge neighborhood. With winds up to 200 mph, the tornado flattened everything in its path.  

EF5 – This type tornado has wind speeds greater than 200 mph. This type of storm damages buildings that are built to withstand stronger storms. The NWS has never recorded an EF5 tornado since 1950 in the state of Georgia or South Carolina. The last EF5 tornado hit Joplin, MO, on May 22, 2011.

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