Tornadoes Explained
A tornado is a violent storm with whirling winds up to 300 miles per hour. It appears as a rotating funnel-shaped cloud, from gray to black in color, which extends toward the ground from the base of a thundercloud.

Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can uproot trees, buildings, and turn harmless objects into deadly missiles in a matter of seconds. Tornadoes also frequently accompany hurricanes.

These short-lived storms are the most violent of all atmospheric phenomena and, over a small area, are the most destructive. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long.

Fujita-Pearson Tornado Scale
Rating Wind Speed (MPH) Damage Damage Details
40-72 Light
  • Some damage to chimneys
  • Breaks the branches off trees and pushes over shallow-rooted trees
  • Damages sign boards
73-112 Moderate
  • Peels the surface off roofs
  • Pushes mobile homes off their foundations and can turn them upside down
  • Pushes moving cars off road
113-157 Considerable
  • Tears the roof from frame houses
  • Demolishes mobile homes
  • Snaps and uproots large trees
  • Generates light-object missiles
158-205 Severe
  • Tears off roofs and walls of well-constructed houses
  • Overturns trains
  • Uproots most trees
  • Lifts heavy cars off the ground
207-260 Devastating
  • Levels well-constructed houses
  • Structures with weak foundations are blown off
  • Cars thrown
  • Generates large missiles
261-318 Incredible
  • Strong frame houses are lifted off their foundations and carried considerable distance before disintegrating
  • Automobile-sized missiles fly through the air in excess of 100 yards
  • Rips bark from trees