top of page



Faculty member for nearly 40 years and meteorologist, namesake of the F-Scale used to measure tornado damage

Ted Fujita 2.jpg

Meteorologists today categorize the strength of tornadoes using the “Enhanced Fujita Scale,” F1 through F5, which links damage with wind speed. The scale gets its name from the man who devised the original scale in 1971: Tetsuya Theodore “Ted” Fujita.


In the aftermath of the atomic bomb that hit Nagasaki, Fujita meticulously measured damage to reconstruct events—an approach he was then able to apply to the study of tornadoes, earning him the name “Mr. Tornado.” Aside from revolutionizing our understanding of tornadoes, Fujita applied his investigative techniques to severe thunderstorms, hurricanes, typhoons, and, later, to a series of airline accidents. His discovery of microbursts –a strong, localized air current in a thunderstorm–transformed airline safety and has helped save thousands of lives.


Born in Kitakyushu City, Japan on October 23, 1920, Fujita received a bachelor’s degree from Kyushu Institute of Technology and a doctoral degree from the University of Tokyo. He joined the University of Chicago faculty in 1953, where he remained until his retirement in 1990. He died on November 19, 1998, at age 78.

Read more:

Photo Source: University of Chicago Photographic Archive, [apf1-09831], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library. 

bottom of page