How do tornado scientists know whether a tornado ranks as an EF1 or an EF2, or perhaps an EF4 or EF5? How do they know?
Truth is, except for rare intercepts, scientists don't get many measurements of wind speed from inside tornadoes. Most anenometers (wind-speed gauges) wouldn't survive the tornadoes with the strongest wind speeds.
So tornado experts and damage surveyers base their wind-speed estimates on the damage caused by the tornado. An EF5 tornado signifies total destruction for most structures in its path. An EF0 would cause only the slightest superficial damage to a well-built home.
The EF-ratings are tied to the Enhanced Fujita scale ( background ), which estimates maximum wind speeds in these categories:
What's the difference? Click to our Twister Data page, scroll down the right column and look for our interactive feature "F1 or F5: Can You Tell?"
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