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Published June 22, 2010, 03:58 PM

National Weather Service Rates Tornados

Three tornados on Monday seem minor compared to last Thursday in the region, and the National Weather Service is still analyzing information about those dozens of tornado touchdowns.

By: Brady Mallory, WDAZ

Three tornados on Monday seem minor compared to last Thursday in the region, and the National Weather Service is still analyzing information about those dozens of tornado touchdowns.

They say it is not just computers and radar letting them know how to rate tornados. They put together various puzzle pieces to find out just how fast tornado winds were.

"It's like CSI..forensic weather," said Warning Coordination Meteorologist Gregory Gust. He said one can tell a lot about a tornado by what it leaves behind.

"Multiple vortexes, multiple tornadic tubes pivoting around a center and creating what we call a big wedge of tornados where you have half a mile or three fourths of a mile wide damage occuring 10, 15, 20 or 30 miles."

Gust said they measure a tornado's strength by looking at its aftermath. Putting the pieces together lets them know wind speeds near Wadena were between 113 to 115 miles per hour, or rating the tornado in Mentor an EF3. Broken trees or leveled houses are like a crime scene for tornados.

"We look at a degree of damage and indicators, how the basement is attached to the foundation, how were the structural elements put together. A lot of these have engineering specifications," said Gust.

The damage in the area proves just how powerful these storms were, but the National Weather Services says just the number of tornados alone made it a big deal.

"You're looking at an event that, from a nationwide perspective is one of the bigger ones in the country. At least 20 to 30 tornados. We're still counting."

Counting himself lucky for not experiencing any tornado damage himself, Gust said the last few days have still been a bit much.

"It was three days of 16 hour days and tornado damage. I'm glad to have a normal workday today because another three day weekend like that would kill me."

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