Weather

Posted: June 23, 2017

Tornado Facts and Safety

Cultura RM Exclusive/Jason Perso/Getty Images/Cultura Exclusive

By WPXI.com

Tornado Facts

Tornadoes can range in intensity. Wind speeds are measured on the Enhanced Fujita scale, which was implemented in February of 2007:

  • EF0 = 65 – 85 mph winds
  • EF1 = 86 – 110 mph winds
  • EF2 = 111 – 135 mph winds
  • EF3 = 136 – 165 mph winds
  • EF4 = 166 – 200 mph winds
  • EF5 = Over 200 mph winds


Tetsuya Theodore "Ted" Fujita (1920-1998) developed the original Fujita Tornado Intensity Scale. The scale was changed to the “Enhanced” Fujita Scale in 2007, after more information about the destructiveness of tornadoes had been scientifically examined. The estimated wind speeds were updated, and more specific damage requirements were set. Tornadoes are now measured AFTER damage has been assessed, days after a tornado strikes.

The size of a tornado is not necessarily a measure of its intensity. Larger tornadoes can be weaker and less violent than smaller tornadoes that have more intense winds. Tornadoes in the EF0-EF2 range are much more likely to develop than stronger ones, but all tornadoes can be deadly. Following these tips could save your life.

Tornado safety tips

1. Have a plan in place:

  • Know in advance exactly what to do when a tornado nears.
  • Know where to take shelter in seconds.
  • Practice home tornado drills with your entire family.
  • Have your kids draw a picture of their home with their “safe place.”

2. The best shelter is a tornado shelter, or an interior room like a closet or bathroom on the lowest level of your home, away from glass or windows.

  • Bring pillows and blankets to cover yourselves from falling debris and wear bike helmets to protect your head.
  • Have a flashlight and a battery-operated radio to take into your shelter with you.
  • You may even turn your television volume up loud enough so that you can hear severe weather alert updates.

3. If you live in a mobile home:

  • Get out!
  • Find the nearest shelter, like a neighbor’s house.
  • If no other shelter is available, it is safer to lie down, as low as you can, such as in a ditch, outside, covering your head with your hands.
  • Even if your mobile home is tied down it is not a safe place during a tornado.

4. If you’re in your car:

  • Get out!
  • Find shelter in a sturdy building. If you don’t see one, find a ditch away from trees and other cars.
  • Lie down in the ditch with your hands covering your head.
  • If there’s no ditch, find an open area of land away from trees and cars. Lie flat on the ground and cover your head with your hands.

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