Weather 101: What is the EF scale? - CBS46 News

Weather 101: What is the EF scale?

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File photo of a tornado File photo of a tornado

When a tornado strikes, you may often hear us mention an EF-1 or EF-3 on television, but what exactly does that mean?

It's simply a scale we use to measure the strength of a tornado.

Tornadoes measured differently from hurricanes

Unlike hurricanes -- which are ranked prior to landfall -- tornadoes actually get their rating after they touch down. Once a tornado strikes, the National Weather Service will send a team to survey the damage, then determine how strong the tornado is based on the damage.

Here's the scale

  • EF-0 (Minor damage)
    65-85 mph winds
  • EF-1 (Moderate damage)
    86-110 mph winds
  • EF-2 (Considerable damage)
    111-135 mph winds
  • EF-3 (Severe damage)
    136-165 mph winds
  • EF-4 (Extreme damage)
    166-200 mph winds
  • EF-5 (Total destruction of buildings)
    200 mph winds or stronger

The scale -- which use to simply be called the Fujita Scale -- is now called the Enhanced Fujita Scale after some adjustments were made to the original scale. 

The scale is named after Tetsuya Theodore "Ted" Fujita, the researcher who developed the scale.

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