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Devastating tornado strikes Joplin, Missouri

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Cyclone is correct in that the tornado was weakening rather quickly at the location that particular video was filmed at, it had already weakened from an EF-5 to EF-4 and was well on its way to an EF-2 at the time. Either way the tornado was done doing its worst damage. That does make a big difference which is why they were "lucky" the tornado hit them while it was weakening and on its way to lifting.

post-525-0-83703700-1315333155.png

There is nothing correct about being totally wrong. The tornado didn't end there and continued to ruin lives and homes for several more miles. Not sure where you guys are getting this lifting nonsense. Do your research and be right or look foolish being wrong. I have serious doubts the tornado remained in a perpetual lifting point for an additional 12 miles while continuing to do high end EF2 damage. There is nothing "lucky" about that.

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There is nothing correct about being totally wrong. The tornado didn't end there and continued to ruin lives and homes for several more miles. Not sure where you guys are getting this lifting nonsense. Do your research and be right or look foolish being wrong. I have serious doubts the tornado remained in a perpetual lifting point for an additional 12 miles while continuing to do high end EF2 damage. There is nothing "lucky" about that.

huh? The tornado clearly shows a curve to the ESE. It did continue on for quite some time while weakening. I think he was saying that had it not curved ESE, the people there would have sustained less damage. Also, there were areas where EF-4 met EF-1 type damage, it's amazing how you can look at one house that has to be torn down due to the damage, and a house across the street only has shingle damage with windows still intact.

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huh? The tornado clearly shows a curve to the ESE. It did continue on for quite some time while weakening. I think he was saying that had it not curved ESE, the people there would have sustained less damage. Also, there were areas where EF-4 met EF-1 type damage, it's amazing how you can look at one house that has to be torn down due to the damage, and a house across the street only has shingle damage with windows still intact.

Def agree there about how the winds act. All tornadoes have that kind of tiered damage though in one way or another. I think the most dramatic example of that was Parkersburg where one house was missing a shingle. The one across the street was off its foundation.

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There is nothing correct about being totally wrong. The tornado didn't end there and continued to ruin lives and homes for several more miles. Not sure where you guys are getting this lifting nonsense. Do your research and be right or look foolish being wrong. I have serious doubts the tornado remained in a perpetual lifting point for an additional 12 miles while continuing to do high end EF2 damage. There is nothing "lucky" about that.

Actually, based on the image Cyclone posted, they were in fact lucky, with houses leveled immediately to their NW. This is a dumb arguement, Cyclone did a lot of work trying to find where these videos were shot which as a reader is extremely helpful. He was also correct that the tornado bending ESE before lifting caused it to track over the house that particular video was filmed at. He was also correct in stating that if they were not hit by the tornado when it was in its weakening stages that their house may have suffered much more damage, and that perhaps they could have been injured/killed. Based on the image Cyclone has already posted, the tornado was without a doubt weakening when it struck their location:

post-525-0-83297600-1315335170.jpg

Edit: Evidently I'm wrong.

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Actually, based on the image Cyclone posted, they were in fact lucky, with houses leveled immediately to their NW. This is a dumb arguement, Cyclone did a lot of work trying to find where these videos were shot which as a reader is extremely helpful. He was also correct that the tornado bending ESE before lifting caused it to track over the house that particular video was filmed at. He was also correct in stating that if they were not hit by the tornado when it was in its weakening stages that their house may have suffered much more damage, and that perhaps they could have been injured/killed. Based on the image Cyclone has already posted, the tornado was without a doubt weakening when it struck their location:

post-525-0-83297600-1315335170.jpg

I think the only thing that's really dumb is the fact that you are rambling on about something that wasn't the point. But hey, if it makes you feel better, good for yas. I said he was wrong about it ending and wrong about it lifting. Which was correct. I never had an issue with his theory on damage. You assumed that.

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What on earth are you talking about? The tornado was on the ground for several miles past the city.

My bad. The map I had ( http://www.weather.com/outlook/weather-news/news/articles/tornado-damage-swath-joplin_2011-05-24 )showed the track ending on the southeast side of Joplin. I didn't realize it continued on that far as I was only focusing on Joplin. Thanks for pointing out my error.

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Joplin uses the Federal Signal 2001 siren

http://www.federalsi...D=4&lookup=2387

It's the most common siren in the US and it's spilling over into Canada. IIRC, the 2001 has a battery life of 30 minutes. If the power is still on, the siren can run for something like forty-five minutes before it needs a ten to fifteen minute break. If the power goes out mid-siren sounding, the siren won't turn off because the battery activates, but the pitch or sound it makes becomes a deeper tone because it's using less power so the motor chopping the air slows down. From what I gather about that article, Joplin believes if they run the sirens too long the batteries will die. But, the power would have to go out first, so as long as the power is still on, and the city can detect whether each siren still has main power, the siren can go off as often as the city likes.

I'm no siren expert, but I'm 95% positive that is how it works.

They are indeed 2001-130 sirens. Even the new ones. However, the new ones are solar powered.

And I just need the weather radio to wake me up if I fall asleep at night and some storms hit.

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My bad. The map I had ( http://www.weather.c...plin_2011-05-24 )showed the track ending on the southeast side of Joplin. I didn't realize it continued on that far as I was only focusing on Joplin. Thanks for pointing out my error.

No worries, with this discussion I noticed Google Earth updated to include the damage path now and you can see it ending just Southwest of the large lake Northeast of Granby.

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No worries, with this discussion I noticed Google Earth updated to include the damage path now and you can see it ending just Southwest of the large lake Northeast of Granby.

This is the last bit of damage I could find:

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Joplin,+MO&hl=en&ll=37.030441,-94.330346&spn=0.003606,0.006968&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=57.772232,114.169922&vpsrc=6&t=h&z=18

What are you seeing down by Granby?

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The actual track http://www.crh.noaa....11may22_summary

The hi rez goes until it lifts:

http://ngs.woc.noaa.gov/storms/joplin/

Yep. Look at the large lake at the end of that. Directly to the left of the lake you see a long white driveway. Not the driveway going North South, the one to the left of that going East/West. The trailer midway down the driveway is missing its roof and the trees are down which marks the end of the path. Its easy to pick up tree damage now because the leaves turned brown on GE for the ones that fell.

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I mentioned this in an earlier post, but this was a childs playhouse/dollhouse that was down in kind of a valley. The houses on the hill above suffered total destruction, however, this playhouse is still standing although moved slightly from where it was. The angle of this picture doesn't really capture the decline into the valley.

dollhousecleaned.jpg

Stars of Hope (i think it's called) came and had kids/adults paint 2000-3000 stars that were then placed around town. This is one such star. Also pictured is the remains of a house volunteers just took down a week or so ago and a poster looking for a missing dog. Pets are still missing after the tornado.

starscleaned.jpg

Anvil of a t-shower east of a house being rebuilt

anvilcleaned.jpg

Canadian geese are making their yearly migration through the area. These geese would not have been at this location last year since this is where a house was. You can see the remains of a natural gas meter in the forefront.

geese1cleaned.jpg

Another picture of the geese with a house undergoing construction in the background.

geese2cleaned.jpg

This house was framed in a day. This is about 5-6 days work on this house I think.

quickcleaned.jpg

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Death toll has risen today to 162 (161 from actual tornado, 1 from lightning strike the next day). Two new names were added. One lady sustained a brain injury from the tornado and died on Sept 11th. Another man sustained a spinal injury and died Aug 15th.

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Joplin Tornado Assessment report is out!!!!!

http://www.weather.g...lin_tornado.pdf

Fastest turnaround I've ever seen for a NWS assessment...4/27 report isn't even out yet.

Many big statements in this one. Quotes that the warning system (and outdoor sirens) "have lost a degree of credibility"...and proposes a framework for basically a new warning system all-together.

Another major proposal...implementing a new 88D VCP that allows for one-minute 0.5* slices...

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Well the survey was pretty much what I knew. The last part about the radar and how NWS Springfield staffed was interesting though.

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Fastest turnaround I've ever seen for a NWS assessment...4/27 report isn't even out yet.

Many big statements in this one. Quotes that the warning system (and outdoor sirens) "have lost a degree of credibility"...and proposes a framework for basically a new warning system all-together.

Another major proposal...implementing a new 88D VCP that allows for one-minute 0.5* slices...

I attended an Integrated Warning Team conference a few weeks back that addressed these issues to the core. It is becoming clear that people are becoming complacent with sirens and most do not seek shelter at the first run of a siren. So, this conference addressed that issue and asked "what can we do to make sure people are still taking warnings and watches seriously?"

The conference was filled with various people; some from the State of Indiana (IDHS), local emergency managers, NWS (Indy, Northern Indiana, Paducah I believe, and Wilmington), broadcast meteorologists, and various others. Each had an interesting point of view on what the next steps should be. Some believed that the siren system should be removed completely, others believed that sirens should not be removed (for some still rely on them completely), but other means of notification should be made.

Another interesting topic that was brought up in the conference was education to the public. It is going to be a nice start for us to begin a survey, distributed to the public, that asks them how they perceive watches and warnings and the actions that they take. It might also be good to know what the public would like to see if they are not going to take each warning seriously.

I could go on and on forever about this conference but the assessment has really highlighted the points that were brought up here in Indiana. A lot of things to discuss in the future, that's for sure.

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Another interesting topic that was brought up in the conference was education to the public. It is going to be a nice start for us to begin a survey, distributed to the public, that asks them how they perceive watches and warnings and the actions that they take. It might also be good to know what the public would like to see if they are not going to take each warning seriously.

I could go on and on forever about this conference but the assessment has really highlighted the points that were brought up here in Indiana. A lot of things to discuss in the future, that's for sure.

I work in 911, it is simply amazing the number of 911 calls we get when the sirens go off. "I hear tornado sirens, what am I supposed to do?" This is anecdotal of course, but I think a large number of them come from trailer residents too.

I think the siren system is broken and antiquated. They need replaced with new more efficient technology. How hard can it be to have all of the cell towers in a polygon push a free text message out to phones. "Tornado warning for your area. 9:11PM to 9:45PM turn on local media for info."

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I work in 911, it is simply amazing the number of 911 calls we get when the sirens go off. "I hear tornado sirens, what am I supposed to do?" This is anecdotal of course, but I think a large number of them come from trailer residents too.

I think the siren system is broken and antiquated. They need replaced with new more efficient technology. How hard can it be to have all of the cell towers in a polygon push a free text message out to phones. "Tornado warning for your area. 9:11PM to 9:45PM turn on local media for info."

What if you don't have a cell phone?

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What if you don't have a cell phone?

Good point. Its quickly becoming a moot point, but it still a good point. The cell phone idea reaches the majority of citizens. Way more than tornado sirens do.

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Good point. Its quickly becoming a moot point, but it still a good point. The cell phone idea reaches the majority of citizens. Way more than tornado sirens do.

Well at this point, and again, they are not looking towards removing the siren system completely. Too many people rely on it. It may not be for the reason that they were made for (I.e. a resident stating that they use the siren to make sure their clocks are set at 11:00 exactly...yeesh), but they are outdoor sirens. I think a general movement for the IWT is to add on to the siren system. Some of the broadcast meteorologists were stating that they are seeing a lot more people tune in when maybe a warning is set off in the area. So, like stated in the assessment, instead of seeking shelter immediately people are tuning into media first to get confirmation. So the question is, how can we expand on that?

Another major subject that was brought up was the lack of standard policies for each county in Indiana when it comes to sounding the sirens. There is a lot of confusion for people because each county has a different policy. The growing trend is to sound the sirens when a tornado warning has been issued when a tornado watch is in place or if a tornado has been spotted by trained spotters. This is not the case for every county though.

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Fastest turnaround I've ever seen for a NWS assessment...4/27 report isn't even out yet.

Many big statements in this one. Quotes that the warning system (and outdoor sirens) "have lost a degree of credibility"...and proposes a framework for basically a new warning system all-together.

Another major proposal...implementing a new 88D VCP that allows for one-minute 0.5* slices...

The quick turnaround is likely because this assessment was done on a regional level (Central Region) and not on a national level.

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Well at this point, and again, they are not looking towards removing the siren system completely. Too many people rely on it. It may not be for the reason that they were made for (I.e. a resident stating that they use the siren to make sure their clocks are set at 11:00 exactly...yeesh), but they are outdoor sirens. I think a general movement for the IWT is to add on to the siren system. Some of the broadcast meteorologists were stating that they are seeing a lot more people tune in when maybe a warning is set off in the area. So, like stated in the assessment, instead of seeking shelter immediately people are tuning into media first to get confirmation. So the question is, how can we expand on that?

Another major subject that was brought up was the lack of standard policies for each county in Indiana when it comes to sounding the sirens. There is a lot of confusion for people because each county has a different policy. The growing trend is to sound the sirens when a tornado warning has been issued when a tornado watch is in place or if a tornado has been spotted by trained spotters. This is not the case for every county though.

Joplinmet (Doug Heady) just brought up your second point about the lack of siren standardization in communities in the area on TV. I'm not really sure what that has to do with the threat perception by the public. I guess you could say that since Joplin is a major shopping hub for this area, that people who came from a location where their siren practices are different may not have known what the sirens meant or what they should do?

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Seems to me based on the service assessment that there may be a push to make "tornado emergency" a separate warning per recommendation 2.

They clearly state they want to maintain the existing POD but want to "provide a non-routine warning mechanism that prompts people to take immediate life saving action in extreme events like strong to violent tornadoes"

Also to modify the warning structure to be more impact based than phenomenon based.

All of the above would be great I think.

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Joplinmet (Doug Heady) just brought up your second point about the lack of siren standardization in communities in the area on TV. I'm not really sure what that has to do with the threat perception by the public. I guess you could say that since Joplin is a major shopping hub for this area, that people who came from a location where their siren practices are different may not have known what the sirens meant or what they should do?

That could be a part of it. I guess the concern is that people are saying they are confused by what the siren is meaning. For example, here in Indiana there are several counties that had or have a policy with their sirens that state the sirens will be sounded when a tornado warning is issued during a tornado watch, if a severe thunderstorms warning is issued while under a tornado watch, or even if there is a hazardous material release and evacuations are in place. Now, there are some counties (inluding Marion County involving the city of Indianapolis) that have changed their policy so that the sirens are only sounded when a tornado warning has been issued during a tornado watch or a tornado has been spotted by trained spotters. Now, from this point forward, hopefully we can get the other counties to re-evaluate their policies and make it a unified deal. But, we have already had some push-backs with some counties.

Honestly, there is no correct way to go about going about changing things so people can abide by them but the most we can do is be flexible. I think there is a lot of things to learn from Joplin thats for sure. Maybe the bigger deal is that people have just become too complacent with the sirens. LIke said in the assessment, people said the sirens sound all the time and nothing ever happens. Its frustrating from a meteorologist's standpoint for sure. Unfortunately I think sometimes it takes an event like Joplin to make people aware that it can happen anywhere at any time.

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The quick turnaround is likely because this assessment was done on a regional level (Central Region) and not on a national level.

Ahh, that makes sense. Thanks for the info!

I have to say...its the best NWS assessment I've seen. Great coverage of the societal aspect. I'm interested now to see what the eventual changes will be...how a "impact-based" system is implemented. At the least...as CT Rain says...appears the Tornado Emergency is going to become a separate product...but appears even bigger changes will eventually come.

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That could be a part of it. I guess the concern is that people are saying they are confused by what the siren is meaning. For example, here in Indiana there are several counties that had or have a policy with their sirens that state the sirens will be sounded when a tornado warning is issued during a tornado watch, if a severe thunderstorms warning is issued while under a tornado watch, or even if there is a hazardous material release and evacuations are in place. Now, there are some counties (inluding Marion County involving the city of Indianapolis) that have changed their policy so that the sirens are only sounded when a tornado warning has been issued during a tornado watch or a tornado has been spotted by trained spotters. Now, from this point forward, hopefully we can get the other counties to re-evaluate their policies and make it a unified deal. But, we have already had some push-backs with some counties.

Honestly, there is no correct way to go about going about changing things so people can abide by them but the most we can do is be flexible. I think there is a lot of things to learn from Joplin thats for sure. Maybe the bigger deal is that people have just become too complacent with the sirens. LIke said in the assessment, people said the sirens sound all the time and nothing ever happens. Its frustrating from a meteorologist's standpoint for sure. Unfortunately I think sometimes it takes an event like Joplin to make people aware that it can happen anywhere at any time.

It's not really that people didn't know what they meant as far as thinking about a severe weather situation. The only time the tornado sirens go off is if we are under a tornado warning. Prior to May 22nd, I don't ever remember them going off for a severe T-storm warning, if they did it was few and far between for the 75+ MPH winds. I know the policy is for 75+ MPH winds or a tornado spotted or a tornado warning.

But, I've heard it a million times. It was sunny when the first tornado sirens went off so people thought the threat wasn't for their area so they didn't take proper precautions and went on with their daily lives.

I think a lot of people suffer from hearing them too often where 'nothing happens'. I've always thought that it is bad policy to sound the sirens once a week (10 AM Monday) to test them if the weather is clear. I think that adds to the public perception that the 'sirens go off all the time'. I think people get used to hearing them be tested and 'learn' to tune them out.

Another point I've heard is that the radio stations were incorrectly reporting a tornado at 7th and Rangeline, based on I don't know what.... This caused at least one person with their two children to try to flee to the south on Rangeline putting them into the direct path of the actual tornado, one that unfortunately took their lives.

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Good point. Its quickly becoming a moot point, but it still a good point. The cell phone idea reaches the majority of citizens. Way more than tornado sirens do.

I'm no expert on cell phones but I wonder if a mass texting could cause overload issues (especially in highly populated areas) and cause some to not obtain the warning in a timely fashion. Obviously the system can get overloaded with a ton of people making calls at the same time but not sure about texts.

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Similarly, familiarity with seasonal weather in southwest Missouri played a major role in risk perception and warning response. Most individuals commented that severe weather in southwest Missouri during spring is common; however, tornadoes never affect Joplin or themselves personally. It was common in the interviews to hear residents refer to "storms always blowing over and missing Joplin," or that there seemed like there was a "protective bubble" around Joplin, or "there is rotation all the time, but never in Joplin." One city employee stated, "...don‘t think it can‘t happen in your community, because that‘s what I thought." This sense in which people believe their personal risk from a hazard is less than the risk faced by others is referred to as optimism bias and can lead to diminished perceptions of threat and influence response.

Optimism bias like this is the kind of thing that makes any meteorologist feel simply wretched on the inside -- as if tapping into mother nature's mainframe to produce exquisitely accurate warnings still would not be enough to perfectly fulfill the mission. We're scientists, so we like to think logically. Many of these statements (which are extremely common -- I think every person on the planet thinks they have their own protective storm bubble) commit cardinal sins of logical fallacy.

The proposal of an evolution in warning operations is noteworthy. Quoting that section of the summary:

This report suggests that in order to improve warning response and mitigate user complacency, the NWS should explore evolving the warning system to better support effective decision making. This evolution should utilize a simple, impact-based, tiered information structure that promotes warning credibility and empowers individuals to quickly make appropriate decisions in the face of adverse conditions. Such a system should:

a. provide a non-routine warning mechanism that prompts people to take immediate life-saving action in extreme events like strong and violent tornadoes

b. be impact-based more than phenomenon-based for clarity on risk assessment

c. be compatible with NWS technological, scientific, and operational capabilities

d. be compatible with external local warning systems and emerging mobile communications technology

e. be easily understood and calibrated by the public to facilitate decision making

f. maintain existing ―probability of detection‖ for severe weather events

g. diminish the perception of false alarms and their impacts on credibility

Other people have mentioned point A, regarding perhaps separating out tornado emergency as a new product. I wonder if this proposal could encompass a bigger paradigm shift than that. Somehow, there simply has to be a higher level of warning that doesn't simultaneously render a typical tornado warning (or whatever its future analog may be) into the realm of public indifference.

I am more interested, however, in point B -- impact-based rather than phenomenon-based. Something that may blur the lines between types of wind, and focuses more on the potential strength and impact instead.

This was a very interesting, and very well-presented assessment. If nothing else, it expertly summarizes and spreads the word about many of the socio-meteorological issues that have arisen during 2011.

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