Joplin, Mo Two Years Later.
After the last few days I'm sure the last thing anyone wants to think about is tornadoes. But today is an important day to me. It's the two year anniversary of the tornado in Joplin. Before my days of chasing storms on my own, I chased with a storm chase tour company for two weeks in 2011.
On May 22nd, 2011 we chased in SE Kansas and then on into Missouri. We had dropped south into Joplin to refuel when that storm exploded and immediately went tornado warned. Lucky for us Joplin had been in a tornado warning for awhile from some previous storms that didn't do any damage. The gas station wouldn't let us fill up because that previous tornado warning was still in effect so we decided to go south to the next town and fill up. As the group was getting back to the vans the group leader tells everyone to hurry because a storm with extreme rotation was moving into the town.
We jumped on Range Line road and started south. For those of you that don't know Joplin that's the business district of Joplin. That was a Sunday afternoon so allot of people were out shopping and traffic was horrible. Every single intersection had a red light. After a couple minutes of stop and go traffic the tornadoes sirens went off but stopped about 20 sconds later when the electricity went out. At this point we knew we were in trouble. But nobody around us seemed to care. They just kept going on about their normal business. Finally all the power went out, including the red lights, and we weren't having to stop at every intersection.
We could see huge power flashes to our west and watched as the beast hit St John's hospital. Traffic was still moving slow and it continued to move towards us at about 35-40 mph. We considered taking shelter behind the Home Depot but quickly decided the tornado was going to pass to close. So we kept going south. Then the rain moved in and we could see the rain curving around us. We finally got far enough south that it wasn't going to impact us. However traffic was still slow and the tornado passed only 3 blocks behind us. We got slammed by 80mph winds and insulation and shingles from houses that had already been destroyed. Luckily we made it out unscathed. It was obviously never intended to happen like that and I chased with them the next year to.
It was a sobering experience and gave me a much deeper respect for what mother nature can do and hoped I never had to see that can of destruction again. There is no joy or thrill watching that happen and is the absolute last thing a chaser wants to see. I'd take a 100 blue sky busts before I had to watch that again. Unfortunately the same kind of destruction happened in Moore, OK on Monday. I wasn't there to see it happen but its no less painful
I'll be headed out for my annual trip next monday. I'll try to post some pictures when I can Here's to wedges in open fields!
I remember it all to well. I was there within 6 hours with SAR gear from the Kansas Reserves to assist the MO SAR teams. Horrible event. :(
A couple pic's from there that I will show.
Major props to you for going and helping. Some of us in our group wanted to go back and help but ultimately decided since no one had any kind of training or experience that we would have just been in the way.
Those pictures are stunning. Do you know if they've rebuilt much yet? I've never been back.
I have not. But will be taking a detour through there in a few weeks. I'm actually from Missouri but stationed in KS. I already waiting to be told to load up the trucks and go to Moore. We'll see on that one.
This pic really shows how powerful that tornado was...
This was in our local paper the next week...
We live about 100 miles from Joplin. Practically everyone I know either went to help, donated money and supplies, or opened their home to the residents. My wife is a trauma nurse. She and many of her co-workers spent several days over there right after it happened.
Well the first week of chasing has been insane. My group has seen 6 tornadoes this week including 2 wedges.
We caught this one near Bennington, Ks about 10 miles north of Salina, KS. Fortunately is was nearly stationary and did very little damage. I was on the ground for about 45 minutes and didn't even move a mile.
I'm in no way proud of the other wedge we saw. It was the El Reno, OK tornado. I couldn't be after all the destruction, and of course the loss of Tim Samaras, his son Paul Samaras, and his chase partnet Carl Young. They were caught in the tornado and their truck was detroyed beyond recognition. This is a huge loss to the chaser community.
The tornado was partially rain wrapped but the left edge was visible.
Here is the truck Tim, Paul, and Carl were in.
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