Tetsuya Theodore Fujita, A.K.A. Mr. Tornado, was a Japanese-American scientist who devoted his life to unlocking the mysteries of severe storms. Most widely known for creating the Fujita Scale, or F-Scale, of tornado intensity, Fujita brought relentless, creative energy to the field of meteorology. “American Experience: Mr. Tornado” premieres on Arizona PBS on Tuesday, May 19 at 8 p.m.
Fujita’s unique forensic analysis of the aftermath left by destructive forces, borne out of the ashes of the world’s first atomic bombs, enabled him to map science onto a phenomenon thought to be unknowable, forever changing our understanding of tornadoes.
Although not a trained meteorologist, Fujita had an inquiring mind and voracious appetite for comprehending the natural world. As a boy in Japan, he studied astronomy to help predict rushing tides while hunting for clams. He next devoured the sciences at Meiji College of Technology, studying engineering, geology and physics, all while continuing his amateur meteorological experiments. He envisioned a lifetime of scientific research in his beloved homeland, but World War II changed everything.