Tetsuya Fujita studies a tornado formation in his lab at the University of Chicago. Fujita developed a schematic for measuring the intensity of tornadoes, conveniently named the Fujita scale.

Photograph by Anthony Boccaccio, National Geographic

Download this file

  • On October 23, 1920, Tetsuya Theodore Fujita was born in Fukoka Prefecture, Japan. Fujita pioneered the analysis of photographs and films to determine a storm’s wind speeds. Fujita’s research revolutionized existing knowledge of weather systems.

    Fujita was known as “Mr. Tornado.” He created the Fujita scale, which measures tornado intensity based on the damage inflicted on manmade structures and vegetation. The scale extends from F0, a storm with winds in the 60-116 kilometers per hour (40-72 mile per hour) range, up to F5, where winds can reach more than 500 kilometers per hour (310 miles per hour). An F5 tornado can rip a house from its foundation. The U.S. National Weather Service uses the Fujita scale to warn people about the strength of approaching tornadoes.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    analysis Noun

    process of studying a problem or situation, identifying its characteristics and how they are related.

    damage Noun

    harm that reduces usefulness or value.

    determine Verb

    to decide.

    Fujita scale Noun

    scale that measures the intensity of tornadoes, from F0 (weakest) to F5 (strongest).

    inflict Verb

    to force something on something else.

    pioneer Noun

    person who is among the first to do something.

    revolutionize Verb

    to completely change a process or way of doing something.

    storm Noun

    severe weather indicating a disturbed state of the atmosphere resulting from uplifted air.

    tornado Noun

    a violently rotating column of air that forms at the bottom of a cloud and touches the ground.

    vegetation Noun

    all the plant life of a specific place.

    weather system Noun

    movement of warm or cold air.