Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics
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Given the impracticality of attempting to directly measure wind speeds in tornadoes, wind speed estimation typically relies on the assessment of damage to structures and vegetation using classifications described in the Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale. The advent of technology enabling the collection of large amounts of data, including detailed ground, drone, and aerial imagery, has led to a growth in research on non-conventional approaches for estimating tornado wind speeds. Research methods focused on defining the tornadic wind field based on forensic analysis of damage observations have shown promise for improving tornado assessments in a quantitative manner. In this study, novel methods for collecting forensic data following tornadoes are presented. Data from the Alonsa, MB tornado are applied to estimating the wind field along the damage path using treefall pattern analysis and threshold debris flight speed calculations. Comparison of the resulting wind speed estimates show reasonable agreement, with maximum speeds from both methods in the EF5 range. These research methods yield higher wind speeds than the maximum value obtained from the conventional EF-Scale assessment, which is in the low-end of the EF4 range based on a wood-frame house with sub-standard construction that was swept entirely from its foundation. Further work is still needed to make these methods operational for routine tornado intensity estimates.