Tornadoes are violent, rotating columns of air that usually occurs on the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. They usually start as a funnel cloud and can have winds of up to 300 miles per hour. Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. The strong winds inside a tornado can cause damage paths of more than a mile wide and up to 50 miles long.

While tornadoes may not be common in Rhode Island, every state is at risk for tornadoes. On June 1, 2011, nearby Springfield, MA, witnessed a devastating tornado that killed 3 people, injured over 300 and destroyed/damaged over 1,400 homes and businesses.

Tornadoes can occur very suddenly without much warning. Download our Tornado Safety Guide to keep your family prepared at all times.

Fujita Tornado Damage Scale (F-Scale)

Developed By Theodore Fujita, the “F-Scale” is used to categorize tornadoes by wind speed and damage.

Scale Wind Estimate (MPH) Typical Damage



Light Damage. Some damage to chimneys; branches broken off trees; shallow-rooted trees pushed over; sign boards damaged.



Moderate Damage. Peels surface off roofs; mobile homes pushed off foundations or overturned; moving automobiles blown off roads.



Considerable Damage. Roofs torn off framed houses; mobile homes demolished; boxcars overturned; large trees snapped or uprooted; light-object missiles generated; cars lifted off ground.



Severe Damage. Roofs and walls torn off well-constructed houses; trains overturned; most trees in forest uprooted; heavy cars lifted off the ground and thrown.



Devastating Damage. Well-constructed homes leveled; structures with weak foundations blown away some distance; cars thrown and large missiles generated.



Incredible Damage. Strong-framed houses leveled off foundations and swept away; automobile-sized missiles fly through the air in excess of 100 meters; trees debarked.

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