2011-05-22 Joplin, MO tornado thread

Apr 23, 2010
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10
6
The path length now at 12-13 miles If I recall. The saddest events are those who were already hospitalized and in bad shape who passed away as back-up power failed according to wiki.
 

E. Clark

EF0
Mar 18, 2010
48
0
5
Currently - Tahoe area
From this video, it looks like the wedge developed rapidly:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XT7CtF5ljxY&feature=related

That thing went from nothing to 1/2 mile wide EF4 in about five seconds. Is that a record? I recall Jarrell(TX) went from a rope to a monster killer very quickly as well.
I don't know about a 'record'. But the speed of tornadogenesis and satellite images of the damage path fits with a theory I have been considering for a while about the heat island effect and the baroclinic environment.

If you have the KML on Google earth and look at the difference in damage from west to east in the area about 2 blocks west of St. Johns, you will see an area where the damage goes rapidly from about EF3 to the first cleared slab just north of the hospital. Generally this would be S. Adele Street. You will also see a mass of parking lots and businesses just to the west of S. Adele Street- right where the damage seems to exponentially increase. East of that is mostly more open farm/suburbs with little blacktop or large air conditioning systems.

I did a study for about a year on the Heat Island effect in Las Vegas. There, of course, you can get very abrupt 20 degree surface temperature variations from one parking lot to the center of a natural field one block over. But the average for areas such as Missouri is 2 to 8 degree gradients the closer you get to the center of the city area, depending on the time of year and other factors.

Of course it has been a long standing theory that tall buildings in a city would create areas of wind roughness (turbulence) that could serve to break up or lessen velocity/sheer. I am wondering if the heat island effect could actually override this under the right situation. Also, the tallest building in Joplin was the hospital, itself surrounded by a large skirting of black pavement and multiple, large air conditioning systems.

I am interested in any thoughts on this or if anyone has had this consideration. I had heard that the NWS was going to do a study on it a couple of years ago, but haven't heard anything since.
The idea that the heat island effect could increase vorticity is horrifying, but I believe that it should to be considered - especially after this storm.
 
Apr 23, 2010
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10
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I think the recent documentary on Nat Geo called Man-Made disasters had that as a theme--that and mud volcanoes I think...
 
...I had 3 or 4 white vans pass me on I-44 that looked like a tour group about 5 miles or so West of Rangeline. I guess i won't neccessarily say they were being stupid because i wasn't far behind them, but me and my partner was amazed that they was trying to get that close and driving like they was being a tour company and trying to get to it. Maybe they thought they were about to get hit, i don't know....
Make no mistake, they were fleeing, not chasing. I've read the full account from the lead driver on a private forum.
 

rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
7,147
696
21
49
Lansing, MI
skywatch.org
This is one issue I can't seem to get resolved. The authorities have been saying it traversed the 6 miles of Joplin in 5 minutes(70mph??). The NWS makes a statement saying it traveled 10mph. And this video seems to show something in between. Perhaps this has been previously addressed in this thread and I apologize if it has. I haven't had much time the past two weeks to get online.
Dont use a statement written in the middle of a storm as any sort of evidence. And it wasn't 70 either...
 

E. Clark

EF0
Mar 18, 2010
48
0
5
Currently - Tahoe area
I think the recent documentary on Nat Geo called Man-Made disasters had that as a theme--that and mud volcanoes I think...
Thanks, I will look for it. I first thought about this when looking at the '99 Oklahoma City and how it 'fired up' when it got to the outskirts of Moore. Right now I am in the middle of researching the Valley Heat/Wind effect here in the Sierras while still keeping up with convective events. Maybe sometime soon I will have time to really take a better look at this - especially after the Joplin.
 

Joey Ketcham

It's taken a couple of weeks, but I've finally completed a written account of what I saw and felt on 5/22. It's a wall of text, so be prepared. In order not to crash the bulletin board, here is the link to my blog.


http://stormdoctor.blogspot.com/2011/06/first-response-mode-may-22-2011-joplin.html
Jason,

I really don't know what one can say, other than thank you to both you and Robert for doing what you both knew had to be done and helping. I only saw the damage afterwards when I went to assist some friends, I can't imagine what you, Robert or any of the other physicians and nurses endured that night. Thank you for what you did that night, and thank you for sharing the details with us.
 
May 18, 2004
285
82
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Centennial, CO
stormdoctor.com
Thanks, guys...the real kudos actually should be given to the people who were working throughout Joplin that night. I'm still pretty much feeling like a pebble in a vast pond, something I referred to as a hive mind. The human hive awakened and took care of its own by any means necessary. It was one of the most beautiful things I could witness, in spite of the sheer tragedy. The size and scope of what we dealt with is still staggering. But I'm glad to have an opportunity to show that chasers do care about the towns and cities we travel through. How we each give back when push comes to shove is what matters--doing what you can do safely without being a victim yourself, that's all that has merit. If this helps set a good example for newer chasers, or serves as a cautionary tale that these storms we chase are quite powerful, I'll be quite content.

I've been in contact with one of the amazing nurses I worked with that night and also with one of my patients from that evening. Knowing they are slowly coming out of the shock and dismay is heart warming.
 
Apr 16, 2010
274
1
0
Omaha, NE
Here is a link after chasing the EF-5 tornado in Joplin. http://www.joplinglobe.com/local/x775917564/Desperate-moments-Spotters-watched-storm-build

This is a must hear to ALL!!! Joplin MO Emergency Services Audio from Tornado on 5/22/11. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SV-LvICOGrE&feature=player_embedded#at=2131

Joplin EF-5 First video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuU-nFuIZN4&feature=related

New Joplin EF-5 Video released 6/5/11 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfdK6H9d6J0


Thank you too Jeff and Katherine, I read that article today and thought it was a good idea to call NWS Tulsa and request help.
 
Apr 22, 2009
230
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preferrably near a storm
Feb 15, 2005
48
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Broken Arrow, OK
www.angelfire.com
Music to my ears! BTW, if you are able plan a small summer vacation with the family if you can afford it and donate a weekend of your time. Help volunteer down there. Were planning several trips next month. Figured it would be a great experience for my 2 older children. Teach them a little about hard work and the struggles we face in life. Plus, southwest Missouri is full of things to do. You got Springfield, Branson, and Table Rock Lake all within about an hour and a halfs drive.
I went and volunteered with debris cleanup on Memorial Day and it was a rewarding experience to help, in whatever way I could. I got to meet a resident who was starting to put his life back together (his family were all ok) and was grateful for the help of the volunteers.

Viewing the damage up close was sobering but I took a picture at the high school that summarizes the spirit of the community:
Hope Joplin.jpg
 
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Dec 11, 2003
377
0
5
Shelton, CT
stormgasm.com
I was also struck by the fact that even though there's a 3/4 mile wide EF-5 tornado probably less than a mile to their west, and the camera is pointed in the right direction, there's really nothing that "looks" like a tornado until about 1:20 where you can see the contrast difference between the edge of the funnel and the clouds/rain behind it. It's not till that point that the passengers in the van really seem to spot the tornado either. I wonder if more than a few people simply did not realize what was coming.
I was southeast of the tornado in Joplin. In fact I ran in and out of the Walmart (about two minutes before it got hit) that got leveled and all I could see to the west and northwest was a very dark lowered based that disappeared into the rain, all black as night. I can assure you that from that angle you could NOT see the tornado. It was rain wrapped and invisible. You had to be just northeast of it and probably right next to it to see it. Blinding rain and baseball/softball hail was the barrier keeping me from sticking around. So I can imagine a lot of people were probably confused, since they simply could not see the tornado coming. Though the tornado siren was blaring. So it's not like people didn't know there was a tornado. Word was out about it. But if anyone was looking for a visual, they were not going to get one unless they were at the optimal position.

Through Facebook and now Stormtrack I'm glad to hear this particular tour company made it out of this storm safely. We bumped into them several times while chasing this storm, beginning in far eastern Kansas. It seemed we were the only two chasing groups that came from the west. It was a frightening thing to do, and I'm just glad we all made it out safely without losing windshields from softball hail, or something worse like possibly being effected by the tornado given it's right turn through the stop and go streets of Joplin.
 
Dec 30, 2008
19
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Joplin, MO
Dont use a statement written in the middle of a storm as any sort of evidence. And it wasn't 70 either...
I didn't. I'm not sure what you're talking about. And I surely wouldn't ever reference something said by the local media here during a storm. When I moved from OKC to Joplin 10 years ago it was a culture shock to see the weather coverage. I know this is probably for a different thread but the local media's handling of severe weather events should be at least considered as a factor in many citizen's slow response to the first storm siren.
 
TWC announced this morning that the death toll has moved up a bit. It is now set at 151 deaths due to tornado injury. Suppose this is due to some of the injured that have succumbed to their wounds. With nearly 4X wounded as killed; this isn't as surprising as it is just plain sad. WE may yet see a few more added before the month is up. Hope not . . .
 

Jim Tang

EF3
Jun 22, 2005
216
0
5
Southern California
TWC announced this morning that the death toll has moved up a bit. It is now set at 151 deaths due to tornado injury. Suppose this is due to some of the injured that have succumbed to their wounds. With nearly 4X wounded as killed; this isn't as surprising as it is just plain sad. WE may yet see a few more added before the month is up. Hope not . . .
This may have also something to do with the rise in the death toll:

http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/06/10/missouri.joplin.fungus/

(CNN) -- Eight people injured by the devastating Joplin, Missouri, tornado have contracted a rare fungal infection, and three have died, officials said Friday.