How Does the Fujita Scale Work?

The extensive damage caused in Fairdale and Rochelle was the result of an EF-4 tornado, the National Weather Service reports.

The National Weather Service said winds reached up to 200 miles per hour and that it cut a 1/2 mile wide swath as it cut across Northern and Western Illinois. 

The Fujita Scale ranks tornadoes based on estimated wind speeds.

The rankings range from F0 to F5, which indicates wind speeds over 200 MPH.

The system was developed by Dr. T. Theodore Fujita at the University of Chicago in 1970. According to NOAA, assessors use 28 indicators to estimate wind speeds, like damage to homes, barns, and trees. From there, each indicator gets scored based on the degree of damage, or DOD.

To put the Fujita Scale in perspective, if the National Weather Service estimates a tornado’s winds speeds to be 157 MPH (on the more severe side of a F2), it would be equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane.

The tornado that devastated Washington in 2013 measured F4, with wind speeds topping anywhere between 170 and 190 MPH.

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