Meteorologists' Adopt New Tornado Scale

It doesn't take the fierce winds meteorologists once thought were needed for a tornado to
annihilate a town.

That's led the National Weather Service to adopt a new Fujita Scale they say is more in tune with reality.

Researchers found that damage they thought took 300 mile per hour winds, actually took only 200. So they decided to update the system so when a tornado roars through, we know what damage potential we're dealing with. 

The tornado that tore through White Deer in 2001 was an F-3 storm but because of it's wind speed this weather season, it would be considered at least an F-4.

In fact what was once an F-3 could now be as destructive as an E-F-5.

The "E" is part of the scale to show that the storm is being measured on the new system.

"You don't need near as much winds, especially like 130-140 mph, to do major destruction when we use to think that wind has to escalate, that's not the case," says Steve Drillette, with the National Weather Service.

The Weather Service will also assess damages to trees and other structures to help determine the intensity of the storm, instead of just accounting for damage to homes.

This will help us understand how fierce tornados are that hit rural areas.

"If you have a tornado that stays mainly over open country where structures aren't affected than the tornado was probably rated much lower on the scale than the force it actually contained," says "Dopplar" Dave Oliver.

The tornados that tore through central Florida last week, were the first to be assessed under the new system. Two of them were considered E-F-3's. 

We will see many more storms in the E-F-5 level now because of the updated system.

Dopplar Dave hopes that they new system will help people understand the severity of tornados.

Fugita Scale

Fujita Scale (or F Scale) - A scale of wind damage from tornadoes in which wind speeds are inferred from an analysis of wind damage:

F0 (weak):     40- 72 mph, light damage.

F1 (weak):     73-112 mph, moderate damage.

F2 (strong):  113-157 mph, considerable damage.

F3 (strong):  158-206 mph, severe damage.

F4 (violent): 207-260 mph, devastating damage.

F5 (violent): 261-318 mph, (rare) incredible damage.