On May 22, 2011 a highly destructive and deadly tornado tore through the city of Joplin, Missouri. Here is video of the tornado entering the southwest side of town, filmed by TornadoVideos.net Basehunters team Colt Forney, Isaac Pato, Kevin Rolfs, and Scott Peake. The team spent hours assisting with search and rescue and transporting victims to local hospitals in personal vehicles.
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On May 22, 2011 an EF-5 Monster Tornado over a mile wide leveled portions of the Southwest side of Joplin, Missouri. Jeff and Kathryn Piotrowski knew that the atmosphere that day was going to be extremely volatile and Jeff mentioned many times in his forecast about storms near Joplin. No truer words were spoken as the day unfolded and a tornadic storm developed near Galena, Kansas which traveled on to Joplin and dropped a horrific wedge tornado. Jeff and Kathryn traveled through the city of Joplin not hearing sirens, Jeff yells at a policeman on Hwy 66 or 7th “To get the sirens going” and it wasn’t soon enough. Already the tornado had grown in size massively and was intensifying…Jeff and Kathryn filmed it down 20th St. and afterwards turned on the first street they came to which was Iowa Ava. Jeff and Kathryn had filmed this EF-5 within blocks of from 20th. Iowa Ave. was devastated with many fatalities and some survivors. Jeff gives frantic calls to 911 then relays to The Weather Channel that a horrible EF-5 is ripping the south side of Joplin apart. The two of them immediately go into search and rescue mode and did what they could to help, comfort and console. God Bless Joplin.
Coming on the heels of the highly destructive May 19, 2013 severe weather event in central Oklahoma—which included strong to violent tornadoes in the Edmond, Carney, Wellston, east Norman, Bethel Acres, and Shawnee areas—May 20 began as yet another day with an atmosphere primed for explosive severe thunderstorms in the southern Great Plains. Still, despite everything we understood about the potential that day, what we ultimately experienced was hard to accept. It still is.
Early in the afternoon, a supercell thunderstorm erupted in a region of extreme instability, along an outflow boundary leftover from the previous day’s storms. This storm very quickly became tornadic, with an initial tall, sharp-edged, cone-shaped tornado forming over the town of Newcastle—another central Oklahoma town with its own history of damaging tornadoes. As experienced storm chasers, we instantly recognized that the tornado was likely very strong, even while initially observing its slender, early stages from several miles to the east; as Cleveland County residents who are very familiar with the geography of southwest Oklahoma City and Moore, we were immediately concerned that we were about to witness yet another tornado tragedy for our community.
This is an extended, near-continuous sequence, beginning with the tornado’s initial touchdown in Newcastle (observed from a distance of approximately 7 miles). We approached the tornado from the east, along Indian Hills Road, and eventually turned north onto Pennsylvania Ave., where we observed the large, wedge-shaped tornado for approximately 10 minutes, as it moved from McClain County, across the Canadian River, and into southwest Oklahoma City and western Moore. Eventually we moved farther north along Penn., and turned east onto 164th, where we came within approximately ¼ mile of the tornadic circulation. This was an incredible vantage point for observing this very violent tornado’s ground circulation, and especially for experiencing the tornado’s otherworldly roar, but it was also a particularly dangerous position to be in, given the tremendous amounts of debris being ejected from much higher up in the storm. Roofing material, sheet metal, and siding were continuously raining down around us, along with insulation and other smaller debris particles, as we flanked the tornado for several miles along 164th.
What we were experiencing was quite apparent; Dave’s earliest tornado observations include May 3, 1999, and May 8, 2003, and we are both well versed in the subject of historic, significant tornadoes. This was also not our first EF-5. This time, though, friends were suffering serious property damage; businesses we frequented were in danger of being destroyed; and, schools were being leveled while children were inside. We dropped the storm at I-35, wanting nothing more to do with it as we realized the terrible devastation unfolding, yet again, in a community we knew and loved.
Copyright 2013, David Demko and Heidi Farrar, weatherbeat.net