It was a Sunday afternoon, 5:34 PM, one year ago from today, when a supercell thunderstorm spawned an EF5 tornado over Joplin, Missouri. In just over a half hour, residents' lives changed drastically. Despite fatalities, property destruction and damage, and a forever changed landscape, the people of Joplin and surrounding communities have come together to show the true power of Americanism.
Going back to that devastating day, we start with a look at the radar and storm relative velocity at 5:48 PM on May 22, 2011.
- NOAA Radar
The radar (left) is extremely impressive. The higher/brighter reflectivity shows the extremely heavy rain and hail. The area circled is the debris ball from the tornado itself. A hook echo can also be made out surrounding the debris ball. The storm relative velocity depicts inbound (green) and outbound (red) winds. The tight couplet shown on the right indicates strong rotation.
Over 200 mph winds, tracking six miles across the city of Joplin, caused more than a thousand injuries and 160 fatalities. The Joplin tornado is the deadliest tornado on record since modern tornado record keeping began in 1950 and falls 7th on the list of deadliest in U.S. history.
- Google Maps - Path of Joplin Tornado
2011 was an unusually active year for tornadoes. It ranks second as the most active year for tornadoes with 1691 tornadoes recorded (2004 most active year with 1817 tornadoes). In May 2011, 326 tornadoes were reported. There were 178 fatalities in May 2011, with 158 of those fatalities due to the Joplin tornado.
- NOAA - Joplin Damage
In an effort to prepare and protect people in the wake of severe weather situations, many new initiatives are evolving. The federal and local (Missouri) goverenments are coming together to fund "weather safe rooms" in new Joplin schools being built. NOAA continues the "Weather-Ready Nation" intitiative to help spread better information, so people make better decisions.
Among the overwhelming images of a city succumb to a natural disaster of this magnitude, come images of renewal and revival. The StormWatch7 weather team compiled a photo gallery on the one year anniversary.
On this one year anniversary of the Joplin tornado we remember all those who lost their lives and loved ones in this tragic weather event and the people who continue to pick up the pieces after a life changing event. More photos in this gallery of before and after and today in Joplin