The truth is that you probably don't care much whether the National Weather Service designates a tornado an EF 1 or an EF 2 after your home has been shredded, and you've lost loved ones or seen them injured. All you know is, hell touched down on Earth for a few brief moments and destroyed everything you know.
But the weather service keeps track of these things for scientific reasons, and the classification tells us just how hard the wind was likely blowing when parts of north Minneapolis were destroyed on Sunday.[jump]
Tornadoes are measured on something called the Enhanced Fujita Scale, and gauged according to the kind of visible damage they leave behind. Here are the categories [DETAILS].
- EF0 - 65-85 mph(Gale)
- EF1 - 86-110 mph (Weak)
- EF2 - 111-135 mph (Strong)
- EF3 - 136-165 mph (Severe)
- EF4 - 166-200 mph (Devastating)
- EF5 - 200mph or more (Incredible)
The weather service says Sunday's twister first touched down in St. Louis Park about three-quarters of a mile south southwest of the I-394-Hwy 100 interchange, crossed Hwy 100 and struck homes along Cedar Lake Road after crossing I-394, and turned to the north-northeast. At that point it was rated an EF 0.
From there, the storm crossed Wirth Lake, entered Minneapolis and strengthened to an EF 1. It crossed the intersections of Broadway and Penn, Lowry and Logan, and 42nd and Lyndale, and then crossed the Mississippi just north of the Camden Bridge. From there it went on to do damage in the northern suburbs.
So according to the EF Scale, Sunday's tornado reached peak wind speeds of about 135 mph. A "strong" twister, it left two people dead, more than 30 injured and more than 100 homes destroyed.
The destruction is tragic and it will be long lasting. But compare it to Sunday's "devastating" EF 4 tornado that leveled a third of Joplin, Missouri. It killed at least 118 people, and something like 1,500 are still unaccounted for.
More on the tornado:
- Minneapolis tornado kills one person, rips up homes
- Twin Cities tornado damage 2011: Your photos
- Minneapolis tornado: Videos from the scene
- Pawlenty strangely silent on tornado damage to Minnesota
- Minneapolis tornado "exclusion zone" map and details
- Rybak declares disaster, City Council plans emergency meeting
- Xcel says 11,000 tornado victims still without power
- Rob MacIntyre, Raptor Resource Project director, ID'd as tornado victim
- How to help tornado victims in North Minneapolis
- Minneapolis City Council OKs disaster declaration
- Floyd David Whitfield named second tornado casualty