2011-05-22 Joplin, MO tornado thread

Apr 10, 2008
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Tulsa, OK
www.facebook.com
One of the signs over the interstate said Tulsa on it, which would be consistent with I-44 at Joplin. Another sign had the state of Missouri on it. From the other video of Joplin and also seeing the damage path in person, I am quite convinced this was the Joplin tornado. Pretty crazy video.
 
Feb 21, 2010
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Conway,Mo
This is footage of the Joplin tornado as we were just seconds from this intersection coming from the north towards 71 south at the Flyn J Truckstop. We were able to get on 44 and race east to hwy 37 as debris was still falling and had sight of it on the ground just se of the truckstop.Not sure if this footage was taken in front or behind us...
 

rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
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Lansing, MI
skywatch.org
Good news that they are finally cutting back on the tests. Bad news that they sound for a tornado warning in two neighboring counties as well "just to be on the safe side." Mike? :)
 

Mike Smith

Joplin is doing exactly the wrong thing. The flawed "Service Assessment" itself cites warning fatigue as a factor in the disaster. No one cares about "test" fatigue, people know that with a clear sky it is a test.

Now, when the tornado is two hours away (40 mi. in western Cherokee Co. moving at 20 mph) and they sound the sirens...and sound them again ten minutes later, no one will remember the activation 1 hour and 50 minutes later when the tornado finally arrives (if it hasn't dissipated by then).

Too many EM's think we are still in the 1970's when it comes to tornadoes. I offer more thoughts here: www.mikesmithenterprises.com/2012/02/error-on-the-side-of-safety/
 

Aaron Kafton

Enthusiast
Mar 15, 2012
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Joplin, Mo
Hi, I'm a photographer that lives in Joplin Missouri. I made a horrible attempt at chasing this tornado. Pretty much made every mistake possible and I'm very lucky to be alive. (I've since made a great effort to educate myself and get the proper tools to spot and chase storms) I noticed one or two of my photos posted in this forum so I thought I might share the higher resolution copies with you and show you the rest of the photos from this event.

In this photo, taken at 5:49 (if the time on my exif data is correct) I'm looking directly at the tornado, which is on Main st about a mile away. I had no idea. Local news radio was actually saying it was south east of me, so I drove further NW until I realized just how much I messed up, drove through a front yard to get turned around and gunned it out of there. Honestly thought I wasn't gonna get out of there alive.


Here's the rest of the photos I shot of the aftermath http://www.flickr.com/photos/clovenlife/sets/72157626831687047/with/5748994963/
Oh, and the car is sitting on fertilized dirt outside of home depot.
 
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Mar 3, 2012
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Hey guys, I just got done writing a blog post about the Joplin tornado and I'd love some feedback on it. Between family issues and researching it took a loooong time to finish, so to be honest I didn't even proofread it. I'm sure there are mistakes, so if anyone reads it please feel free to let me know if I messed something up.

http://stormstalker.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/joplin/
 
Feb 14, 2005
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Charleston, South Carolina
Loco,

Read your blog post of the Joplin tornado and it was superb. I didn't even find so much as a comma out of place. You're obviously a gifted writer and I hope you'll continue your good works. The photo's were outstanding in their own right, well-placed and it's clear you put in meticulous research.

It's still kind of hard to put the Joplin event into perspective. I've read Mike Smith's book about it probably 3 times over now. While I can grasp "why what happened, happened" intellectually, it's still hard to accept a 100+ fatality count in this day and age...so it bugs the heck out of me. While the area is on the periphery of tornado alley, I always understood the people in that area were pretty weather-wise as my family is from the nearby areas of Pittsburg and Ft. Scott, Kansas.
 
Mar 3, 2012
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Thank you for the kind words, Mike! I've been meaning to get Mike's book, I'll have to make a note to remind me. It really is difficult to believe such a terrible death toll in modern times. I'd always assumed the only way we'd see a 100+ death toll again would be with a sporting event or other large public gathering, or if a tornado struck a major metro area during rush hour. Outside of those situations, I think Joplin was just about the "perfect storm" in terms of fatalities. The tornado being so massive and so rain-wrapped is bad enough, as it reduces the visual cue that many people unfortunately look for before sheltering. But add to that the extremely rapid intensification, generally awful construction quality, a track directly through the residential heart of the city, a complacent public and a bit of bumbling by NWS and others, and you've got the recipe for a historically deadly tornado.

In some sense, I think being "weather-wise" was part of the problem. Several of the people I spoke with alluded to the fact that they were used to bad weather, and they knew what to look for when a severe storm or a tornado was coming. Of course, with the Joplin tornado those usual signs they were looking for may not have been much help. I guess that's more a problem of perceiving themselves to be more weather-wise than they are. I intended to cover the "How did this happen?" angle in my post as well, but there's been so much written about it and I didn't want to look as if I were copying someone else or regurgitating old information.
 
Jun 28, 2007
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Machesney Park, IL
Hey guys, I just got done writing a blog post about the Joplin tornado and I'd love some feedback on it. Between family issues and researching it took a loooong time to finish, so to be honest I didn't even proofread it. I'm sure there are mistakes, so if anyone reads it please feel free to let me know if I messed something up.

http://stormstalker.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/joplin/
Very well written and documented account of that tragic event. Having been on the storm prior to it hitting Joplin I can agree with your description of it as “messy and disorganizedâ€. When the main cell was near Neutral (view on the photo is from the WSW) it did for a short time exhibit a low rain free base with a broad area of circulation. However it soon became enveloped in heavy precipitation and from my perspective lost any visual sense of structure. With visibility very limited, the cell moving toward a large populated area and other cells firing to the south I decided to abandon the cell and go after a different target. Minutes later the merge happened and subsequently the birth of one of the deadliest tornadoes in history.

Along with the meteorological documentation I liked the incorporation of the human experience into your account. For those interested in more of the human experience of surviving the Joplin tornado I’d recommend the book “5:41: Stories from the Joplin Tornadoâ€. I also recommend Mike Smith’s excellent account of what went wrong with the warning system in his book “When the Sirens Were Silentâ€.

I saw this table in a study, while slightly more than half the deaths occurred in a residence (if you include the nursing home) a large number were apparently out and about and likely not aware of the impending danger. Preliminary locations of deceased:



1 Academy Sports Store
1 AT&T store
5 Elks Lodge
7 Full Gospel Church
21 Greenbriar Nursing Home
3 Harmony Heights Baptist Church
8 Home Depot
2 Meadows Healthcare Facility
14 Outside (6 in vehicles)
5 Pizza Hut
11 Residences - apartments
54 Residences - single family home
2 Stained Glass Theater
15 St. John Regional Medical Center
9 Unknown
3 Walmart
1 Officer killed in the line of duty

I found the study to be quite informative, please forgive if it’s already been linked:

http://www.nist.gov/el/disasterstudies/ncst/upload/NCSTACJoplin110411.pdf
 
I remember driving across parts of rural Oklahoma to the SW of OKC late May/early June in 2011 and seeing very evident tornado damage from what I believe was the same storm system that hit Joplin (though I could be wrong on this). I'd seen plenty of storm damage before but not houses torn apart, sheds and hangers twisted with their roofs missing...and from what I was told the damage I witnessed was almost nothing compared to some parts of Joplin. I still can't really wrap my mind around such a high fatality rate for that storm or even just the sheer destruction that it caused to that city. We've had a fair number of tornadoes out here in Colorado in recent years but I certainly hope that nothing like that hits here. Nobody around here would really know what to do if something that powerful were to hit a town or city here.
 
2 days after Joplin(May 24) Piedmont, OK got hit by an F5....That might be what you saw. The Joplin storm fired up much closer to the OK, KS, MO border.
Potentially. I just remember hearing that what I saw and what hit Joplin was around the same time. The areas I saw damage in were Dibble and Newcastle, OK. There was a house in Dibble that had most of its roof torn off and a fair number of walls that had been stripped of nearly everything but the frame, and debris lined the highway through Newcastle for miles.
 
Mar 3, 2012
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That was probably the result of the Goldsby and Chickasha EF4s, which passed near Dibble and Newcastle respectively. They actually both produced damage that was nearly (and, in the opinion of many, should have been) EF5 at some points along their paths. But more on topic, I don't think I've ever seen such widespread urban/suburban destruction than in Joplin. It wasn't even so much the degree of damage -- which was obviously extremely significant in itself -- but just the scale and density of destruction was staggering. Although they're obviously so different for many reasons that a comparison can't even be made, I think this lends some perspective: the Tri-State tornado is estimated to have destroyed somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 homes along its 219 mile path. The Joplin tornado destroyed around 7,000 homes, most of them within about six miles.
 
Feb 27, 2009
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Texarkana, AR
If your curious to see the actual tornadoes that caused the damage you saw.... The First is the one that went near Newcastle, before it got to Newcastle. And the second was taken near Dibble. As stated though, this wasn't the same day as the Joplin tornado.




 
Thank you Josh and loco for the information and the photos. As for the statistics provided by loco...wow. Just wow. I wouldn't necessarily call it a fair comparison (mostly because the Tri-State tornado didn't really pass through larger towns and the Joplin tornado ripped through the core of a decently sized city) but it definitely helps to put things into some perspective.
 

Aaron Kafton

Enthusiast
Mar 15, 2012
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Joplin, Mo
Thought some of you would find this interesting. Civil engineer finally released their study of the Joplin tornado damage. Most of the damage was actually caused by EF-2 level wind speeds, some EF-3 speeds and a little EF-4 but no EF-5 damage to speak of. Most of the damage was caused because apparently a lot of our homes weren't even bolted to the foundation and even those that were had poorly connected roofs.
http://www.joplinglobe.com/tornadomay2011/x120729257/Civil-engineers-release-study-of-Joplin-tornado-damage
 
May 2, 2010
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Springfield, IL
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has just released its draft report on Joplin:

http://www.nist.gov/el/disasterstudies/joplin-112113.cfm

http://www.nist.gov/customcf/get_pdf.cfm?pub_id=914787 (link to PDF file of actual report)

It's more than 400 pages long but contains info on just about every aspect of the disaster -- the warning process, structural damage, cause/locations of deaths and injuries, etc.

NIST will accept public comment on the report through Jan. 6, after which they will release a final version. Although NIST is not a rulemaking agency, its recommendations often find their way into state and federal regulations, safety and building codes, etc.
 
Mar 4, 2010
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Bryan, TX
Hey guys, I just got done writing a blog post about the Joplin tornado and I'd love some feedback on it. Between family issues and researching it took a loooong time to finish, so to be honest I didn't even proofread it. I'm sure there are mistakes, so if anyone reads it please feel free to let me know if I messed something up.

http://stormstalker.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/joplin/
Shawn,

I liked your article, and the pictures are excellent. But there is one mistake I saw. Your article says the sirens in Joplin sounded for the second time at 5:31 PM. But according to Mike Smith's "When the Sirens Were Silent" it was 5:38 PM when the sirens sounded for the second time. At 5:38 the tornado had been on the ground for four minutes and it was already doing EF-4 damage. It was three minutes later at 5:41 that the tornado crossed into the Joplin city limits. So when those sirens sounded that second time, the residents of south Joplin had roughly 3 to 6 minutes to find shelter. The timing of the second siren alert was very likely a factor in the number of deaths and injuries that occurred.

The video below from KSNF-TV Joplin confirms that the tornado was on the ground doing damage when the sirens sounded the second time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDOLjlzQYSs
 
Mar 3, 2012
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Shawn,

I liked your article, and the pictures are excellent. But there is one mistake I saw. Your article says the sirens in Joplin sounded for the second time at 5:31 PM. But according to Mike Smith's "When the Sirens Were Silent" it was 5:38 PM when the sirens sounded for the second time. At 5:38 the tornado had been on the ground for four minutes and it was already doing EF-4 damage. It was three minutes later at 5:41 that the tornado crossed into the Joplin city limits. So when those sirens sounded that second time, the residents of south Joplin had roughly 3 to 6 minutes to find shelter. The timing of the second siren alert was very likely a factor in the number of deaths and injuries that occurred.

The video below from KSNF-TV Joplin confirms that the tornado was on the ground doing damage when the sirens sounded the second time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDOLjlzQYSs
Thank you Brian. That was one detail I wasn't sure on at the time, because I'd seen both 5:31 and 5:38 as the time when the sirens were activated a second time. Most sources, both newspapers and official documents, stated that it was 5:31 when the second sirens sounded. After doing some more digging I began to suspect that the 5:31 figure was either mistaken or deliberately manipulated. A member of another forum who was in Joplin when the tornado struck also mentioned that he thought the siren had sounded several minutes later, and that video would seem to confirm those suspicions. I haven't read Mike's book, but I may pick up a copy at some point.

Anyhow, I have another mistake in that article that needs to be corrected, so I'll update that portion as well.
 

Mike Smith

The second siren activation was from 5:38 to 5:41pm. That is confirmed from multiple sources and videos.

Jeff Piotrowski's plea to activate the sirens at 5:36pm was the reason the sirens were activated two minutes later.

There was no siren activation at 5:31pm.