(WHNT) — After storms are gone, teams from the National Weather Service go out to survey the damage left behind. What they find helps to determine the windspeeds and if the storm produced a tornado.
The teams travel to the hardest hit areas to examine and photograph different types of damage left behind from storms. Downed trees can indicate how strong the winds were within the storm.
An uprooted healthy tree would get a higher windspeed rating than a tree that was dead, or impacted by termites. Looking at damages like downed trees helps the Weather Service determine the windspeeds and give ratings to tornadoes on the Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale.
The EF Scale is a damage-based scale that relates the types of observed damages to windspeeds and is used to rate tornadoes. The EF Scale runs from EF-0 to EF-5, with wind speeds from 65 mph to over 200 mph respectively.
Determining whether storm damage is a result of a tornado, or straight-line wind depends on several factors. First and foremost atmospheric conditions have to have been conducive for tornadoes when the storm came through. Then, the pattern and types of damage have to match the rotation of a tornado.
All of the information collected from damage surveys is used not only to determine the type of storm that caused the damage but also for research and insurance purposes. Having these official storm damage surveys from the Weather Service can help victims of the storm file insurance claims and begin the recovery process.