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Everyone knows that tornadoes are among nature’s most powerful and destructive phenomenon on land. Also just like other types of storms tornadoes are ranked by strength. The way that tornadoes are ranked is using the Fujita scale. The Fujita scale is a scale that measures the strength of a tornado by the speed of the winds and the amount of the destruction that it causes. The scale is not perfect in that it is hard to directly measure the speeds of the winds and when looking at damage the guidelines are very general and damage becomes indistinguishable after F3.
The Fujita scale is no longer in use since scientists agreed decommission it in favor of the Enhanced Fujita scale, a more nuanced version of the scale that better ranks tornadoes with detailed guidelines concerning wind and destruction patterns. The Fujita scale is still useful to the average person in giving them a general idea of the strength of a tornado. The interesting thing to look for in the Fujita scale is when it reaches F6 tornado. The F6 is a mythical tornado that you would likely only see in movies or hear of in tall tales. It is similar to the magnitude 10 tornado. Early history may have witnessed such phenomena but they have not occurred in modern times due to more settled climates.
The F6 tornado would be the granddaddy of all tornadoes. It would have wind speeds exceeding 300 miles per hour at maximum and would be able to lift houses from their foundations like Dorothy’s Kansas home in the Wizard of Oz. Car would become ballistic missiles able to hurl at tremendous speeds. However; even if such a tornado existed, it would be hard to identify even with an Enhanced Fujita scale. The damage would look mostly the same as an F5 tornado’s damage. It is thought that the more severe damage would be evidenced by specific funnel marks.
We’ve also recorded an episode of Astronomy Cast all about planet Earth. Listen here, Episode 51: Earth.