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Tornado Activities
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Tornado

Weather Theme Page for K-3
Introduction to Tornadoes Tornado Alley Tornado Classification Tornado Glossary Tornado Activities

Tornado Classification


Most tornadoes rotate in a counterclockwise direction in the Northen Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.

Wind Speed in a Tornado:
Tornadoes are classified into five categories, based on wind speed and the resulting damage. The average wind speeds in most tornadoes are about 112 mph (180 km/h) or less. Winds in the most extreme tornadoes can be over 300 mph (500 km/h).

Tornadoes are classified using a scale called the Fujita Scale, which measures both wind speed and the damage it causes.

  • F-0 40-72 mph, chimney damage, tree branches broken
  • F-1 73-112 mph, mobile homes pushed off foundation or flipped over
  • F-2 113-157 mph, considerable damage, mobile homes demolished, trees uprooted
  • F-3 158-205 mph, roofs and walls torn down, train cars overturned, cars thrown around
  • F-4 207-260 mph, well-made walls leveled
  • F-5 261-318 mph, homes lifted off foundation and carried considerable distances, autos thrown as far as 100 meters. Dr. Tetsuya Theodore (Ted) Fujita (Oct. 23, 1920 - Nov. 19, 1998) was a pioneering meteorologist who revolutionized the study of severe storms. Dr. Fujita developed the f-scale for measuring wind speed in 1971; it links damage to wind speed. Hewas also the first person to realize that there are multiple vortex tornadoes (1965), downbursts and microbursts.


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