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Scholastic MATH > NUMBERS IN THE NEWS

Welcome to MATH Magazine’s Numbers in the News! Each week we'll post a math question based on a current news story. Read and solve the question.

If you like, enter your answer in the Comments section. The first person to answer the question correctly has the honor of being our “Winner of the Week.” (We’ll reveal that person, and the correct answer, in that question’s Comments the following week.)

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Tornado in Missouri

On May 22, a devastating tornado hit Joplin, Missouri, destroying buildings and killing at least 142 people. People and companies around the country are chipping in to help through donations and volunteering.

Tornado intensity is ranked on the Fujita scale by the tornado's wind speed. The scale was developed in 1971 by T. Theodore Fujita of the University of Chicago. The wind speeds are estimates as different wind speeds can cause similar looking damage.

Scale

Estimated Wind Speed (mph)

Typical Damage

F0 

40-72

Light damage such as damage to chimneys and branches broken off trees

F1

73-112

Moderate damage such as mobile homes pushed off foundations or overturned

F2

113-157

Considerable damage such as roofs torn off frame houses, mobile homes demolished, and cars lifted off the ground

F3

158-206

Severe damage such as roofs and walls torn off of houses and trains overturned

F4

207-260

Devastating damage such as well-constructed houses leveled

F5

261-318

Incredible damage such as strong frame houses leveled off foundations and swept away and cars thrown considerable distances

The Joplin tornado had wind speeds of an estimated 198 miles per hour. Where did it rank on the scale? How many mph less would the wind have to have been for the tornado to be classified as an F2?

The Joplin tornado ranked as an F3 according to the scale, but meteorologists assigned it an F5. The wind speeds would have had to have been at least 41 mph less to be classified as an F2.

The caption contest for this photo is closed.