Coming to PBS’s American Experience tonight, Tuesday, May 19:
A profile of pioneering meteorologist Tetsuya Theodore Fujita.
Tetsuya Fujita trained as an engineer in pre-WWII Japan, but had a keen interest in meteorological phenomena. In the aftermath of the American bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Fujita conducted damage surveys, laying the groundwork for his future work. With Japan’s postwar economy in ruins, his research opened a path to relocation to Chicago, working on a government-supported weather project. Fujita soon turned his attention to tornados, becoming a leader in their study and developing a scale to measure their intensity, earning him the film’s titular nickname. His studies of other weather-related destruction – notably a mysterious airplane crash at JFK in 1975 – led to his discovery of microbursts, resulting in important advances in aeronautic safety. While director Michael Rossi never strays from the standard American Experience format, he offers an informative look at an acclaimed scientist.