Weather Wonders: How strong is a tornado?

Weather Wonders: How strong is a tornado?

This week's Weather Wonders comes to us from 4th grader Ashley Young. She asked, "How strong is a tornado?"

First, let's answer what a tornado is. A tornado is a violent rotating column of air that has made contact with the earth's surface. Tornadoes are categorized from a 0-5 on the Enhanced Fujita (EF) scale. The EF scale rates a tornado's strength from the amount of damage it causes based wind estimates.

An EF 0 tornado causes minimal damage to property. Tree limbs and windows may be broken, but otherwise most structures will still be standing.

An EF 1 tornado causes moderate damage. Windows may be shattered, shingle could be lifted from roofs, and mobile homes could be flipped. Here's a look at some ddamagecaused by an EF-1 tornado.

Damage continues to increase the further up the EF scale you move. An EF-5 tornado is categorized as catastrophic damage. Houses will be pulled off their foundation and bark could be ripped right off of trees. Little will be left standing in the wake of an EF-5 tornado.

It is important that you you have a tornado safety plan in place. If a tornado warning is issued for your area, you must immediately make your way to the lowest most interior room of a sturdy structure. Stay away from windows, and protect your head.

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- Nicole