FARGO — After more than 60 years since one tornado devasted Fargo's landscape, a nationally broadcasted documentary series will feature an episode about the man who created the scale we now use to rate tornadoes.
The tornado ripped apart North Fargo on June 20, 1957. More than 1300 homes were damaged or destroyed and 12 people died, including the Munson children, where six children died.
When the 1957 tornado hit and, WDAY's television and radio staff documented the tornado. Those pictures and film would help scientist Ted Fujita analyze data through groundbreaking research about tornadoes and how they behave.
"It is something that every American has in the back of their mind," said Michael Rossi, producer and director of the PBS special, "Mr. Tornado". "This mystery of tornadoes, and how he (Ted Fujita) tackled it with his incredible data visualization mindset."
Fujita traveled to Fargo to meet with storm victims, WDAY staff and others to produce his historic report along with the creation of the Fujita Scale (F-scale), a ranking system the U.S. still uses for tornadoes.
Since 1971, the Fujita scale would be used to measure tornadoes before it was replaced by the Enhanced Fujita Scale (EF-Scale) in 2007. The 1957 tornado in Fargo was later listed as an F-5.
"It is kind of like 3-D modeling," Rossi said. "but just decades before, for him to do what he did in Fargo, to create this animated film out of photos, this incredible research he spent two years pulling together and working with residents and Dewey Bergquist, trying to get all the images that were available from all the points in time so he created an animation of it."
The "Mr. Tornado" episode will premiere May 19 at 8 p.m. CST. on PBS.