Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tornado nightmares continue

Joplin tornado deadliest since 1953; winds up to 198 m.p.h.

Tornado nightmares continue


The historically deadly 2011 tornado season has left a tragic signature in Joplin, Mo., and that region is bracing for more severe weather the next two days.

The Joplin death toll stands at 89 and could climb, making it the deadliest single tornado outbreak since the unbelievable 1953 season, National Weather Service officials said this afternoon.

Based on preliminary investigations, the Joplin twister has been designated an EF-4 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, with winds as high as 198 m.p.h.

It touched down at 5:41 p.m., 24 minutes after the warning was issued, and cut a path of about 3/4 of a mile wide.

More coverage
Gallery: Midwest tornado scenes

The death toll was so high in this case because the twister happened to rampage through a poulated area, a "rare event" in the words of Russ Schneider, director of the Storm Prediction Center, which has been a very busy place this spring.

Over 1,000 tornadoes have touched down so far this season, and the record 1,817 sightings of 2004 isn't out of reach.

With the incredible late April outbreak, the seasonal death toll stands at 454. That's the highest total through May since 1950.

This season, for reasons that aren't clear, the tornado belts have shifted to the east. Schneider said that's contributed to the death toll, since areas to the east tend to be more populated than the traditional domains of tornado alley.

Schneider warned that "a major tornado outbreak" is possible in the central United States tomorrow, including in cities such as Wichita and Tulsa.

What's worse, he said, the nation is still in the peak of the season.

Inquirer Weather Columnist
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy:

Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog

Everyone talks about the weather, and here we write about it.

When we’re around and conditions warrant, we’ll keep you updated about what’s coming, but we will do our best always to discuss weather and climate developments in context and remind you that nothing in the atmosphere happens in a vacuum.

Tony Wood has been writing about the atmosphere for The Inquirer for 26 years.

Reach Tony at twood@phillynews.com.

Tony Wood Inquirer Weather Columnist
Also on Philly.com
letter icon Newsletter