F Scale vs EF Scale

This month we are highlighting some memorable weather events in eastern Iowa. Namely, we are remembering May tornadoes that made a lasting impact in some of our communities. However, what do you know of the way tornadoes are rated?

Half a century ago this month, an F5 tornado tracked through Charles City. It was one of two F5 tornadoes that day in eastern Iowa. The other tracked through the Oelwein and Maynard areas.

A little more recently – actually 10 years ago this month – an EF5 tornado tracked through Parkersburg, New Hartford and the surrounding areas.

The difference between these two rankings – F5 and EF5 – is time.

The EF, or Enhanced Fujita scale, went into operation in 2007. This is the scale currently used by meteorologists. Previously, the F, or Fujita scale, was used to rank tornado damage intensity. Click here to find the parameters used for the F and EF scale.

Regardless of which scale was used, the three tornadoes listed above were among the strongest and most destructive in Iowa history. Even EF0 or EF1 tornadoes can cause extensive damage. In 2017, an EF1 struck McGregor in Clayton County. You can read more on that tornado here. In fact, most of the tornadoes in 2017 were ranked EF0 or EF1. For more information on the 2017 tornado climatology, click here.

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Posted under Severe Weather, Weather History

This post was written by Rachael Peart on May 16, 2018

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