Mass Destruction (03:09)
In April 1974, several tornadoes travel across 13 states, killing hundreds and injuring thousands. Prof. Tetsuya Theodore Fujita studies the aftereffects of severely destructive forces, including the Super Outbreak.
Kyushu, Japan (03:22)
In August 1945, Fujita and his students shelter in a bunker as a B-29 Superfortress flies overhead. Cloud cover forces the pilot to drop the atomic bomb on the secondary target. Fujita investigates damage patterns in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. (Credits)
Fujita's Youth (02:48)
Fujita studies astronomy to better understand tidal patterns and attempts to measure wind during a typhoon; he is an independent thinker. At 18, he attends Meiji College of Technology and performs meteorological experiments. After World War II, he creates weather maps for teachers.
Thunderstorm Research (03:52)
Fujita collects atmospheric data atop Seburi-yama Mountain and discovers pressure anomalies that suggest downdrafts. He reads Horace Byers' paper on nonfrontal thunderstorms and sends him a copy of his research; Byers asks Fujita to help with weather research in Chicago.
Violent Weather Phenomena (05:55)
Fujita arrives at the University of Chicago and immerses himself in work; he becomes fascinated with tornadoes. The central U.S. experiences frequent, strong tornadoes. The National Weather Service creates a network of radar stations; Fujita applies the data in new ways.
Tornado Pattern (03:22)
A tornado strikes Fargo, North Dakota in June 1957. Fujita interviews victims, collects images, and creates a narrative; his motion picture depicts the tornado's life cycle. Tornadoes are not random.
Tornado Surveys (05:15)
Fujita charters planes to study tornado aftereffects and identifies behavioral fluctuations. He formulates a controversial theory about circular patterns. Fujita becomes SMRP Director and publishes hundreds of papers. He tries to balance work and family, but divorces and remarries; he becomes a U.S. citizen.
Fujita Tornado Scale (03:02)
Fujita believes not all tornados are created equal and in 1971, creates a six-point intensity scale. He often hosts guests at his university laboratory.
Super Outbreak (07:52)
In April 1974, over 100 tornadoes strike 13 states, causing death and destruction. Fujita surveys the damage, gathers information, and creates a detailed map; video captures multiple suction vortices.
Eastern Airlines Flight 66 (03:01)
The plane crashes near Kennedy Airport in June 1975; the NTSB report cites normal thunderstorm activity. Fujita conducts an independent study, connecting the event to conditions in Nagasaki, and determines the cause of the crash.
Microburst Theory (04:19)
Critics scorn Fujita's theory, despite additional airline crashes. Fujita uses Doppler radar technology to prove his theory, leading to changes in aviation safety. At the age of 61, Fujita witnesses his first tornado.
Fujita's Final Years (04:15)
Fujita receives the Vermeil Gold Medal and a transatlantic flight aboard a Concorde jet. He retires at 70 and writes an autobiography. At 75, he begins investigating his ailing health. The American Meteorological Society honors Fujita at their annual symposium; he dies in November 1998.
Fujita's Life Summary (01:37)
Fujita spends his life trying to understand extreme weather events. His work significantly impacts the field of meteorology. Experts reflect on Fujita's career.
Credits: Mr. Tornado (01:21)
Credits: Mr. Tornado
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