Sunday, May 22, 2011. That afternoon was hot and humid in Joplin, Missouri. At 5:17 pm. on May 22, 2011, the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for the Joplin, Missouri, area. Within 20 minutes a large and powerful tornado would plow through the city.
At 5:34 p.m. a tornado touched down west of Joplin near the Missouri/Kansas border and it was moving eastward. Initially, this was a weak EF-0 tornado. This tornado was unique, however, because it intensified rapidly on its journey toward Joplin. There were observations from storm chasers reporting multiple vortices circulating around the original tornado. The tornado strengthened to an EF1 and then EF2 as it entered the first subdivisions of Joplin. The tornado became a large wedge, nearly a mile wide, as it strengthened to an Ef-4 as it entered a more commercial area. Within a minute, it was an unbelievable EF-5 unleashing incredible destruction.
Businesses and medical buildings were gone in an instant as concrete walls came smashing down. Steel girders were ripped away and twisted like pretzels. More vehicles were thrown around and some were found wrapped around trees. Concrete parking stops were picked up and thrown some 60 yards away.
The most prominent building was the St, John’s Regional Medical Center which ended up with missing windows, walls and ceilings. A life flight helicopter on the roof was completely blown away. Five people lost their lives there. The nine-story building was so damaged that it had to be torn down.
Vehicles in the parking lot were tossed around and crashed beyond recognition. One large truck was thrown 125 yards and wrapped around a tree. Every house in the vicinity was totally destroyed. The tornado paraded eastward (as an EF5) damaging every building in its path. It barely missed the downtown area to the south, however. There was more extensive damage to homes and parts of concrete driveways were destroyed. Vehicles continue to be tossed around. Some residents never did find their vehicle after the tornado passed by.
The tornado became rain wrapped and difficult to see as it moved toward the southeast side of the city. The damage was catastrophic. At a Pizza Hut restaurant, the store manager took four employees and fifteen customers to a walk-in freezer. He couldn’t completely shut the door, however, and as he was holding the door shut he was sucked out and killed as the tornado hit. Nearby, a Walmart Supercenter was totally destroyed.
An industrial park and several subdivisions were destroyed as the tornado departed Joplin and over toward Interstate 44. The tornado then weakened and finally dissipated at 6:12 p.m.
Over 150 people lost their lives in the event and overall damage of three billion dollars. According to the American Red Cross about a quarter of the city was destroyed. There was damage to three-quarters of the city with 2000 buildings destroyed. Nearly 7,000 houses were destroyed and over 800 were damaged. This happened is a span of 38 minutes.
Welcome to Met Summer As this extended Spring season should come to a end (I hope)
Here in Michigan almost all of the active weather has been to our south so far this year.While many locations now have reached 80 this year Grand Rapids has yet to officially reach 80° yet this year (it did reached 79 on Friday). The latest first 80° on record is June 12 way back in 1924 and this year looks will be the latest since at least 1997 when the first 80 day happened on June 9th the average first 80° day over the years is April 30th and this year will join 1997, 1983. 1947 and 1924 as the only years where it did not reach 80 or better before June.
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