Joplin Tornado May 22, 2011

by Riley Lockerby

The Joplin Tornado was one of the deadliest natural disasters in American History. One third of the city of Joplin was demolished. 183 people were killed and hundreds of thousands more were injured. Even more were left homeless. In this article you will hear what it was like before, during, and after the monstrous tornado that changed Joplin, Missouri forever. It was an EF5 tornado, the highest strength that it can be, and it all started on May, 22 2011…




Before the Storm


Dawn breaks on a sunny Joplin, Missouri and there are reports for thunderstorms later on in the afternoon. Many people are going about their business and enjoying life. Although many don't get to see 6:30 P.M. on the clock. Around 1:30pm a tornado watch is issued across Joplin and areas around it. A tornado watch means the conditions are right for tornadoes but nothing has happened...yet. On the news around 2:00pm the storm system shows up in western Kansas and becomes a violent supercell. It pelts the town of Parsons with heavy rain, strong wind, and golf ball sized chunks of hail.




Around 4:30 there is so much energy in the air that two more massive storm systems get so powerful that they become supercells. A supercell is a massive storm system that can produce hail, wind, and of course tornadoes. The storms are still in Columbus, Kansas. They are still quite a bit south of the main storm. Then the three storms move toward Joplin.


Then at 5:00pm a tornado warning is issued in areas of Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma. A tornado warning means a tornado has been spotted on radar or has been seen by a human in the area. The threat is imminent and that people should take shelter that very instant. The worst of the storm was said to hit the northeastern part of Joplin. At exactly 5:11 the tornado sirens wail for three minutes and no tornadoes at all touch down. Then the sirens go silent.






During the Storm


A new tornado warning is issued and it includes all of Joplin at 5:17pm. At 5:20 four storm chasers are the first to witness the ominus swirling black clouds twist into a massive tornado. Within minutes of the touchdown the tornado disappears behind a curtain of rain turning it into a rain-wrapped tornado. Then it heads off to Joplin. At 5:30 two other storm chasers are tracking the storm and realize the churning gray cloud to the west is a massive rain-wrapped tornado. One of them tells a cop to get the sirens going. At 5:31 the sirens sound for a second time. Then at exactly 5:32 the massive three fourths of a mile wide tornado begins its attack on Joplin.




The tornado starts in downtown Joplin were many of the older houses lay. Almost all of them are ripped off of their foundation within seconds of the tornado hitting them. In fact even when the tornado wasn't right on top of them they were already starting to be blown away. Then it moved on to bigger neighborhoods where beautiful house are being sent into the sky. Many weather forecasters stare in shock as pink dots sprinkled the screen. This indicated that debris were being thrown thousands of feet into the air as the storm raged on.

Even though you're safe in the basement your house is not and then the tornado hits your house. The roof shingles fly off hundreds at a time then the roof framework goes flying into the bellowing storm. Then all your clean furniture is flung into the air while being covered in brown mud and dirt turning them an awful brown color. The last to go is the support beams and then the house flies into the air right before disintegrating into hundreds of pieces. Then it leaves to go onto the other house leaving yours as a pile of twisted debris. And to think all that happened in under a minute. You come up just in time to see the storm shred through another house turning it into a pile of splinters.



The tornado continued through Joplin. Everything it touched was gone in a matter of seconds or is barely standing after the tornado narrowly grazed it. The tornado was beginning to lose energy but it still went on for five more minutes. In those five minutes the tornado kept on smashing cars, leveling houses, wrecking belongings, sending people into the air, and splitting apart families before the swirling black mass began to break apart. At 6:12 the wind died down and the tornado was breaking apart as residents of Joplin began to come back up from their basements. Then within thirty seconds the monster tornado vanished into the clouds.




After the Storm

Rain still pounded the streets of Joplin or what was left of them. Many houses were piles of debris. Many pictures of families lay broken on the streets. The beautiful homes where you used to play at were scattered throughout Joplin. Ventriloquist dummies lay tattered and torn, furniture lay ripped and filthy, wooden chairs are just splinters scattered throughout the city, dolls are cracked and broken, toys are covered with a layer of mud and are cracked and smashed and broken, cars are flipped over, and there's more. The cars are smashed, cracked or something has impaled them, some houses have been swept away completely or are piles of twisted debris.


A third of Joplin was destroyed. In just forty minutes the way life was done in Joplin changed forever. Many people never forgot it and the tornado still haunts their dreams and they wake up in a cold sweat thinking it was happening again. People from around the world came to help put Joplin back together.







That concludes the story of the Joplin tornado. As I said before many people from around the world came to help rebuild Joplin. Though many will never forget the storm that killed 183 people they will still live happy normal lives because the tornado is gone, it's in the past, and it's no longer a threat. Though tornadoes still happen near Joplin none of them have been as strong or as deadly as the Joplin tornado. Survivors are very happy to see another day and be able to live it in happiness, not in fear. I hope nothing like this ever happens to a beautiful city like Joplin ever again. Also thank the many people that helped put Joplin back together again.

Below is some extra content in case your interested. It include videos and pictures if thats any interest to you but if not than see you later.

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Joplin Tornado: East Middle School Surveillance Footage
Joplin Tornado School Video
St. John's Security Camera Footage