News / USA

Tornado Leaves 116 Dead in Missouri

Possibly deadliest single tornado in US in nearly 60 years reduces much of Joplin, Missouri to rubble

Damaged vehicles litter the parking lot of St. John's Hospital in Joplin, Missouri, after a tornado hit the Missouri city on Sunday, May 22, 2011
Damaged vehicles litter the parking lot of St. John's Hospital in Joplin, Missouri, after a tornado hit the Missouri city on Sunday, May 22, 2011

Authorities in the midwestern U.S. state of Missouri now say at least 116 people are dead after a powerful tornado ripped through the city of Joplin, reducing much of the area to rubble.

Weather officials say the twister may have been the deadliest single tornado in the United States in nearly 60 years. The powerful weather system that spawned it struck the Joplin area Sunday evening, crushing cars in its path, uprooting trees and ripping apart homes and businesses.

Sirens gave city residents a 24-minute warning to seek safety before the twister touched down. The tornado also damaged a hospital, which was evacuated, and left a helicopter crushed on its side in the hospital parking lot.

Tornadoes at a Glance

Formation: Rotating thunderstorms or supercells cause the most destructive and deadly tornadoes.

Many supercells never produce a tornado. They can produce damaging hail, extreme winds, frequent lightning, flash floods and can last for many hours.

Duration: Tornadoes can last from several seconds to more than an hour. Most last less than 10 minutes.

Damage: The new, Enhanced F-scale is becoming the standard for assessing tornado damage.

Even with engineering guidelines, tornado wind speeds are based on calculations.

Frequency: About 1,300 tornadoes strike the U.S. each year.

The true average is not known due to recording mistakes, erroneous classification or under reporting.

Path: Most tornadoes move from southwest to northeast, or west to east. Some change direction or even backtrack.

Prediction: One or two days in advance, forecasters look for temperature and wind flow patterns which can cause enough moisture, instability, lift and wind shear for tornadic thunderstorms.

Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Search crews in Joplin labored Monday to find tornado victims, but their effort was made more difficult by a thunderstorm and driving rain in the area.  Officials estimate the tornado damage covers at least 25 percent of Joplin, a city of about 50,000 people.  Its wind speed was reported at 265 kilometers per hour.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon Monday went to the areas hit by the storm to survey the damage and meet with emergency personnel.  A statement issued by his office says the Federal Emergency Management Agency has extended disaster assistance to individuals and families in the counties that bore the brunt of the storm.

U.S. President Barack Obama called the governor to express condolences and pledge federal government support for recovery efforts.

Separately, another tornado in the northern state of Minnesota killed one person and injured nearly 30 others. The strong line of storms swept across states stretching from Wisconsin to Oklahoma.

Last month, tornadoes and violent thunderstorms killed more than 300 people across the southern United States. Alabama bore the brunt of the fatalities, with more than 200 dead.

In the southern state of Louisiana, the U.S. Coast Guard has reopened a stretch of the Mississippi River near Baton Rouge after the section was closed when three barges sank amid high water and fast currents.  Officials are allowing the barges to move north through that section of the river.  

Earlier this month, U.S. Army engineers opened a spillway north of Baton Rouge in an effort to save that city and New Orleans from the flood waters of the Mississippi.  The flooding was caused by snow melt and heavy rains in northern states, and it was carried south by the Mississippi and its tributaries.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

You May Like

Video Getting to Zero AIDS Infections

More than 35 million people around the world are infected with HIV, a disease that is both preventable and treatable

Children, Childhoods Lost in European Refugee Crisis

According to UNICEF, 190,000 children applied for political asylum in Europe in the first 9 months of this year - twice as many as last year

What Happened When I Landed in Antarctica

Refael Klein chronicles what it's like to visit one of the coldest, most desolate places on Earth

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs