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Enhanced Fujita Ratings Debate Thread (1 Viewer)


Equus

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Saragossa, AL
I really do like the 'incredible damage' modifiers. You compare two identically swept away houses, with the former having little contextual support and the latter with grass scoured out of the ground, shredded tree snags, and cars turned into little crumpled metal balls, and it's immediately apparent which one is truly violent. I know surveyors document and take into account these things but I think maybe there's not enough put into non-DI indicators. The Hamilton house destroyed to seemingly EF3 level had only medium-end tree damage around it, so maybe a case could be made contextually for the lower rating. I dunno.
 

Equus

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Here's an example of one of the issues I'm seeing recently with the application of the EF- scale... this is a destroyed house from Elon, VA, from the tornado that struck, ironically, exactly one year ago today.



Definitely a poorly attached home, but it IS a frame home, and the entire thing was swept into a ravine and scattered into the woods. The lowest POSSIBLE EF scale DI for a frame home swept away, regardless of construction, is low end EF3. NWS Blacksburg initially broke the constraints of the EF scale itself and rated this damage 130mph EF2. This is definitely not a super high end candidate given contextual evidence and poor anchoring, but EF2 seems wholly inappropriate. It was eventually bumped to 150mph EF3, which seems about right, but even then, before La Plata and careful engineering was considered, this would have been slapped with F4 by many WFOs... probably slightly too high by even F scale standards.

And therein lies the problems... the awful historical consistency with overrated F scale tornadoes, and sometimes actually breaking DI constraints to underrate a tornado.
 

gangstonc

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I think Doppler Radar is accurate enough that we should use that data in combination with an damage study to assign ratings.

And if we can get fortunate enough to get DOW data, then use that.
 

Equus

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I'm of the opinion that even though it won't help the consistency of the ratings, we should use whatever data we can get, with DOW scans certainly worth taking into consideration. I'd kind of like to see EF scale wind estimates raised a bit since we've had confirmed 200+mph tornadoes barely cause EF3 damage, but every bit of data recorded should at least be mentioned on the survey.
 
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Wishful thinking maybe, and I haven't seen all of the damage surveys yet, so correct me if I'm wrong, but I feel like this year's rating standards have been just a little bit more realistic. Last year we had NWS offices skipping houses that were severely damaged, completely ignoring contextual indicators, and at least once actually going below the lowest possible DI on the scale.

If we just go by the official ratings, they'd have us believe that there was not a single violent tornado in the United States last year which is most definitely not true. There were at least three or four tornadoes that could have been rated EF4 last year*, and as I've said before the Camp Crook, SD (6/28) tornado probably should have been. The Laramie, WY (6/6) and Douglas, WY (7/28) tornadoes were not as clear-cut, and a strong case could definitely be made for both sides, but an EF4 rating still wouldn't have been too unreasonable for either of them.

This year we have had a few EF2 tornadoes that could have been upgraded to EF3, but not nearly as many as last year, and there have been two officially-rated violent tornadoes so far. It's still not perfect, but it's quite a step up from last year.
 

Equus

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EF3 certainly isn't as hard to get this year as it was last year; I think the biggest thing this year I've noticed has been tornadoes with VIOLENT signatures producing shockingly mild damage and being rated as such, instead of producing extreme damage and being underrated. I'm still shocked the radar twins in April caused only moderate damage, along with the signature SW of St Louis last week (it was an EF1) Not sure about the Wyoming tornadoes (though I don't recall the surveys; didn't one of them leave a lot of ground scarring?) but Camp Crook had obvious violent potential. I remember watching the chaser stream on that one and it not only had amazing structure and motion but was in an environment that would definitely support violent tornadoes.

t was a weird year where we had a remarkably quiet and inconsistent tornado season; 2018 had the lowest number of tornado warnings through the end of May since 1994 according to a graph I saw. Tescott, KS on May 1st was another fairly high end possible candidate, the only big southern plains wedge of the year iirc, but it didn't really hit much. Storm Data even mentions rating it was a challenge due to the paucity of DIs in rural Kansas. But yeah Wyoming absolutely took the crown last year... it was bizarre all around.
 
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Lenexa, KS
EF3 certainly isn't as hard to get this year as it was last year; I think the biggest thing this year I've noticed has been tornadoes with VIOLENT signatures producing shockingly mild damage and being rated as such, instead of producing extreme damage and being underrated. I'm still shocked the radar twins in April caused only moderate damage, along with the signature SW of St Louis last week (it was an EF1) Not sure about the Wyoming tornadoes (though I don't recall the surveys; didn't one of them leave a lot of ground scarring?) but Camp Crook had obvious violent potential. I remember watching the chaser stream on that one and it not only had amazing structure and motion but was in an environment that would definitely support violent tornadoes.

t was a weird year where we had a remarkably quiet and inconsistent tornado season; 2018 had the lowest number of tornado warnings through the end of May since 1994 according to a graph I saw. Tescott, KS on May 1st was another fairly high end possible candidate, the only big southern plains wedge of the year iirc, but it didn't really hit much. Storm Data even mentions rating it was a challenge due to the paucity of DIs in rural Kansas. But yeah Wyoming absolutely took the crown last year... it was bizarre all around.
EF3 certainly isn't as hard to get this year as it was last year; I think the biggest thing this year I've noticed has been tornadoes with VIOLENT signatures producing shockingly mild damage and being rated as such, instead of producing extreme damage and being underrated. I'm still shocked the radar twins in April caused only moderate damage, along with the signature SW of St Louis last week (it was an EF1) Not sure about the Wyoming tornadoes (though I don't recall the surveys; didn't one of them leave a lot of ground scarring?) but Camp Crook had obvious violent potential. I remember watching the chaser stream on that one and it not only had amazing structure and motion but was in an environment that would definitely support violent tornadoes.

t was a weird year where we had a remarkably quiet and inconsistent tornado season; 2018 had the lowest number of tornado warnings through the end of May since 1994 according to a graph I saw. Tescott, KS on May 1st was another fairly high end possible candidate, the only big southern plains wedge of the year iirc, but it didn't really hit much. Storm Data even mentions rating it was a challenge due to the paucity of DIs in rural Kansas. But yeah Wyoming absolutely took the crown last year... it was bizarre all around.
There was one tornado last year that carried a 10,000 lb tractor over 2 miles from South Dakota into Montana and it was shredded into tiny pieces. It was a really violent tornado. It may have been the Camp Crook tornado. I think the Rozel tornado from 2013 was rated too high based on damage. It looked like low-end EF3 damage at most.
 

Equus

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Wow, yeah that would certainly qualify as violent. I guess it depends on the WFO as some would definitely upgrade to violent for that.

If I recall Rozel was rated entirely based upon DOW measured winds, which opens up ANOTHER can of worms (El Reno etc) furthering the inconsistency of the database. All I ask for is some consistency c'mon
 
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Wow, yeah that would certainly qualify as violent. I guess it depends on the WFO as some would definitely upgrade to violent for that.

If I recall Rozel was rated entirely based upon DOW measured winds, which opens up ANOTHER can of worms (El Reno etc) furthering the inconsistency of the database. All I ask for is some consistency c'mon
I tend to wonder what the Greensburg tornado would have rated had it of happened on May 4, 2006 instead of May 4, 2007. I highly doubt it would have rated F5 on the original F-scale. Maybe high-end F3 to mid F4.
 

Equus

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Wow, that's news to me. I really hadn't given much of a thought about any of last year's tornadoes being a candidate for violent but vehicle damage like that is a very strong suggestion that Camp Crook likely was. Though I guess the fact that it threw it into an entirely different state loses a little of its punch when the farm is on the state line lol

I'm not sure Greensburg would even get an EF5 rating now, much less between 2002 and 2006 when they were paying much closer attention to anchoring and construction after the La Plata incident. The last half decade or so has been just about as strict. I read the survey report a while back but nothing really stood out to me as being particularly high end in Greensburg; the media-touted shots of the gutted downtown showed EF2-3 at best and any higher damage was certainly scattered and hard to see in the outskirts of town. It's certainly the weakest case for any of our official EF5s, the rest of which definitely earned their rankings. I'll say that the incredible supercell that dropped it was surely capable of producing extremely violent tornadoes (the one that followed Greensburg was probably even more intense) but just didn't hit anything capable of registering; I think the Greensburg tor hit town in the last little bit of its path before lifting I assume it was stronger south of town

The thread gets a bit of a boost today with the bumping of the Dayton tornado to EF4; back to back days with violent tornadoes at the end of the outbreak sequence. NWS says drone video was used to survey areas still unreachable or still in disaster mode and it's gotten me to realizing just how insanely low the death toll has been with the outbreak, so many strong/violent tornadoes striking populated areas and the death toll has been exceedingly small to even zero in some of the worst (N Joplin, Jeff City, Dayton, Lawrence killed nobody) That's truly fascinating.
 
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Niagara Falls, Ontario
There was one tornado last year that carried a 10,000 lb tractor over 2 miles from South Dakota into Montana and it was shredded into tiny pieces. It was a really violent tornado. It may have been the Camp Crook tornado. I think the Rozel tornado from 2013 was rated too high based on damage. It looked like low-end EF3 damage at most.
As far as I know the Rozel tornado was rated EF4 based on a 1,000 gallon propane tank being tossed a quarter mile. While that is suggestive of a violent tornado, what bugs me is how inconsistently contextual indicators like that are applied. For instance, the 2013 El Reno tornado tossed several oil tanks a similar distance and was rated EF3. The Houston, MS tornado* tossed a 5,000 gallon tank almost half a mile and was still rated EF3. The problem is WFOs need to be consistent. They can't have it both ways - the long-distance movement of heavy objects either is or isn't a DI. In my opinion, it should be, but that's just my opinion.

*This was the 2011 Houston tornado that was produced by the same supercell as the Smithville tornado. The 2014 one was a fair bit weaker.

ot sure about the Wyoming tornadoes (though I don't recall the surveys; didn't one of them leave a lot of ground scarring?) Camp Crook had obvious violent potential. I remember watching the chaser stream on that one and it not only had amazing structure and motion but was in an environment that would definitely support violent tornadoes.
The Camp Crook tornado was most definitely violent, probably the most blatantly underrated EF3 I've ever seen. As Shakespeare said, it carried a 10,000 pound tractor two miles and tore it into pieces that were scattered across fields. A couple of trees were completely debarked as well. Based on the vehicle and tree damage alone I think an EF4 rating would be more than justified. The Laramie tornado scoured grass and several inches of topsoil from the ground over most of its path width while the Douglas tornado tossed two truck trailers which were never found except for one axle set and reduced a few trees to debarked trunks. Both were probably violent as well.

I think the most glaring sign that these tornadoes were underrated is the fact the Douglas and Camp Crook tornadoes were rated at lowest possible EF3 (136 mph) while the Laramie tornado was still rated as a very low-end EF3 (140 mph).
 
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Equus

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Yeah the WFO consistency, especially with non official DI stuff like large object tossing and vehicle damage, is one of the most egregious issues at hand. Many will claim otherwise but the difference between high EF2 and low EF3 (and subsequently between 3/4 and 4/5) is as much a product of the WFO it occurred in as it is the damage caused. Some take variables and non-DI indicators much more seriously and strictly than others. There needs to be some standard ON FILE for some of these indicators (large tanks tossed, degree of vehicle obliteration, etc) so that can be more consistently applied and I hope that the oft-discussed update to the EF scale, whenever it happens, can address this.

Didn't know that about Rozel; I'd heard it was due to a non standard thing, but wasn't sure exactly what. And that dedinitely opens further issues about WFO consistency
 
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As far as I know the Rozel tornado was rated EF4 based on a 1,000 gallon propane tank being tossed a quarter mile. While that is suggestive of a violent tornado, what bugs me is how inconsistently contextual indicators like that are applied. For instance, the 2013 El Reno tornado tossed several oil tanks a similar distance and was rated EF3. The Houston, MS tornado* tossed a 5,000 gallon tank almost half a mile and was still rated EF3. The problem is WFOs need to be consistent. They can't have it both ways - the long-distance movement of heavy objects either is or isn't a DI. In my opinion, it should be, but that's just my opinion.

*This was the 2011 Houston tornado that was produced by the same supercell as the Smithville tornado. The 2014 one was a fair bit weaker.


The Camp Crook tornado was most definitely violent, probably the most blatantly underrated EF3 I've ever seen. As Shakespeare said, it carried a 10,000 pound tractor two miles and tore it into pieces that were scattered across fields. A couple of trees were completely debarked as well. Based on the vehicle and tree damage alone I think an EF4 rating would be more than justified. The Laramie tornado scoured grass and several inches of topsoil from the ground over most of its path width while the Douglas tornado tossed two truck trailers which were never found except for one axle set and reduced a few trees to debarked trunks. Both were probably violent as well.

I think the most glaring sign that these tornadoes were underrated is the fact the Douglas and Camp Crook tornadoes were rated at lowest possible EF3 (136 mph) while the Laramie tornado was still rated as a very low-end EF3 (140 mph).
There is a lesser known tornado back in 1990 that went through Southern Nebraska that tore many objects into fragments. It literally granulated tractors, vehicles, a cast iron skillet, and an iron etc. It was officially rated an F4 on the F-scale but a lot of people who know about it believe it should have been rated F5. I would not doubt it if the Camp Crook tornado had EF5 potential. Not only the tractor but several vehicles on that farm literally disappeared without a trace.
 
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There is a lesser known tornado back in 1990 that went through Southern Nebraska that tore many objects into fragments. It literally granulated tractors, vehicles, a cast iron skillet, and an iron etc. It was officially rated an F4 on the F-scale but a lot of people who know about it believe it should have been rated F5. I would not doubt it if the Camp Crook tornado had EF5 potential. Not only the tractor but several vehicles on that farm literally disappeared without a trace.
That was the Trenton, NE tornado, and there was a section on it and the Bakersfield Valley, TX tornado two weeks earlier in one of the textbooks in my college program last year. I wish I'd taken pictures because that textbook had the only detailed photos of the damage from those tornadoes I've ever seen. And I'm honestly shocked that both of them are pretty much forgotten, considering how violent they both were. I'm pretty confident that they were both a fair bit stronger than any of the officially-rated F5 tornadoes in 1990.
 
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That was the Trenton, NE tornado, and there was a section on it and the Bakersfield Valley, TX tornado two weeks earlier in one of the textbooks in my college program last year. I wish I'd taken pictures because that textbook had the only detailed photos of the damage from those tornadoes I've ever seen. And I'm honestly shocked that both of them are pretty much forgotten, considering how violent they both were. I'm pretty confident that they were both a fair bit stronger than any of the officially-rated F5 tornadoes in 1990.
Didn't the Bakersfield tornado scour the concrete and pipes out of a culvert or something like that? That tornado also did some very severe ground scouring and probably some of the most impressive ever documented. It also rolled tanks tanks that were hundreds of tons 3 miles and one up an incline.
 
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I don't know how the other two tornadoes from 1990 would compare to the Hesston, Kansas F5 tornado on March 13, 1990. The transitional phases of the Hesston tornado are some of the most impressive i have ever seen. It is likely the other two tornadoes we mentioned could have been as of more violent than the Hesston tornado.
 

locomusic01

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There is a lesser known tornado back in 1990 that went through Southern Nebraska that tore many objects into fragments. It literally granulated tractors, vehicles, a cast iron skillet, and an iron etc. It was officially rated an F4 on the F-scale but a lot of people who know about it believe it should have been rated F5. I would not doubt it if the Camp Crook tornado had EF5 potential. Not only the tractor but several vehicles on that farm literally disappeared without a trace.
Ha, I was just browsing through this thread and was about to post the same thing once I read about the tractor. Happened on June 15, 1990 in Hitchcock and Red Willow counties. Also variously referenced as the Stratton/Trenton/McCook tornado. I've seen a few of the photos and they're remarkable. Dean Cosgrove has them but unfortunately didn't seem to be interested in sharing publicly the last time I contacted him. He also has photos of the tornado itself. By the very few available accounts of people who actually saw it, that tornado sounds incredibly impressive.
 
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I don't know how the other two tornadoes from 1990 would compare to the Hesston, Kansas F5 tornado on March 13, 1990. The transitional phases of the Hesston tornado are some of the most impressive i have ever seen. It is likely the other two tornadoes we mentioned could have been as of more violent than the Hesston tornado.
The Hesston and Goessel tornadoes caused some fairly impressive ground scouring, but nothing close to what the Bakersfield tornado did. The ground scouring and vegetation damage were more similar to the Jarrell tornado than anything else.
 
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Ha, I was just browsing through this thread and was about to post the same thing once I read about the tractor. Happened on June 15, 1990 in Hitchcock and Red Willow counties. Also variously referenced as the Stratton/Trenton/McCook tornado. I've seen a few of the photos and they're remarkable. Dean Cosgrove has them but unfortunately didn't seem to be interested in sharing publicly the last time I contacted him. He also has photos of the tornado itself. By the very few available accounts of people who actually saw it, that tornado sounds incredibly impressive.
Here are some photos of the tornado.
https://tornadotalk.com/stratton-mccook-ne-f4-tornado-june-15-1990/
 

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