Which events did Fujita himself come out to study?


Apr 17, 2020
Hi all,

I'm an amateur tornado and weather enthusiast from Central IA and this is my first post here. I've fascinated by tornadoes for a very long time. I've recently watched the new Fujita documentary on PBS "Mr. Tornado" and found it very interesting. It made me wonder which of the historical tornado events did Fujita come out on-site to study in their respective aftermaths? I know he was on-site for the Jordan IA 1976 aftermath. And I think I vaguely remember seeing a video of him being on-site after the 1974 Xenia OH tornado.
I just looked through Tom Grazulis' "The Tornado". From what I can gather from this book, his only US ground survey was for the Fargo, ND 6/20/57 tornado, which fits with the following from the link above:

"After studying the Yanagawa, Japan tornado of 26 September 1948 on foot and the Fargo, North Dakota tornado of 10 June 1957 by car, Fujita was convinced that the use of low-flying aircraft is the only way to conduct quick-response surveys of extensive damage areas which are often inaccessible on the ground."

Interesting note: his approach to the ground survey was unusual. There were 150+ pictures taken by amateur photographers and a few movies of the Fargo tornado. Fujita and meteorologist Dewey Bergquist "located the exact spot from which each picture was taken" and mapped it. Later he "outlined the external architecture of a 'supercell'...by constructing "a three-dimensional view of the storm in his mind". He then created perspective drawings. (Grazulis, "The Tornado").
Thanks for all your comments. Very interesting info. I vaguely remember seeing a video of Fujita on site at Xenia in 1974, but I can't seem to find it now. So I could very well be mistaken about that. There is the video of his analysis of the Jordan IA 1976 tornado which he was on site for. I live not far from there, and that event is well-known in our area. I thought his analysis was very good - and his diagramming and attention to detail was wonderful to see.
Fujita studied the Hesston and Goessel Tornadoes. I don't remember if he came to south central Kansas. He asked me to present his findings to the media, which I did.
I posted this elsewhere:

I'm currently reading Mark Levine's F5, and he has a section on Fujita. After the 1957 Fargo tornado, he collected 150 photographs and five super eight films from residents, and, to quote from the book, he "followed the tornado's path on the ground, choosing fifty-three locations from which pictures had been taken to determine the angles at which the tornado had been viewed and the distance of the photographer fom the storm. He corrected for variation in the lenses of the different cameras and for the effects of camera movement. He rephotographed the prints in order to establish uniform scale and perspective, and triangulated measurements taken from multiple positions in order to construct a three-dimensional model of the storm. When he finished, he had pieced together, frame by frame, a short and comprehensive disaster film that told the story of the onsent and development of a tornado."

That took him two years alone!
That is a really interesting and well-written book. If I remember correctly, Levine's a journalist. Fujita's approach to analyzing the Fargo tornado is just amazing.