LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — We classify tornadoes on something called the Enhanced Fujita Scale, or EF Scale, which has been in place since 2007.
The scale works by assigning a rating between zero and five, based on the estimated wind speeds of a tornado gathered by looking at 28 separate damage indicators after the storm moves through.
But it is pretty hard to conceptualize the damage based on these storms if you’re not in the affected area.
So, let’s talk about what kind of damage is seen with each category on the EF Scale.
First is an EF 0, which is the weakest kind of tornado with estimated winds between 65 and 85 mph. At this point, we see minor damage to structures — that can include some damage to gutters or siding or broken branches off trees.
When we get up to an EF 1 tornado, which we just saw last Friday in Perry, we now have estimated winds up to 110 mph.
These kinds of winds can produce moderate damage such as roofs being stripped off homes; mobile homes being overturned or badly damaged and, in certain cases, loss of any exterior doors.
EF 2 tornadoes can shift homes off their foundation and even lift cars off the ground with winds between 111 to 135 mph.
Once we get into the EF 3 category and above, that’s when damage can now be catastrophic.
An EF 3 tornado can destroy entire stories of homes; heavy cars not only lifted but thrown and the complete destruction of mobile homes.
Ef 4 tornadoes have the capability to completely level homes, with winds up to 200 mph.
Any tornado that has estimated wind speeds over 200 mph can make certain cities and towns almost unrecognizable.
Thankfully, of the nearly 800 tornadoes that occur each year across the United State, 80% of them are rated as an EF 0 and EF 1.
The rates drop pretty quickly from there, with fewer than 1% of tornado belonging to the violent category of an EF 4 or EF 5 rating.