23 May 2011
An intense supercell storm spawned a violent tornado that tore through Joplin Missouri around 5:30 PM Sunday evening. The local paper is reporting 24 fatalities and the main hospital in the city took a direct hit. The hospital is being evacuated and patients transferred to nearby facilities.
A friend of mine who is a storm chaser pulled 30 people from the rubble near the high school which appears to be mostly destroyed.
Update Monday, 23 May, 2011:
PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SPRINGFIELD MO 400 PM CDT MON MAY 23 2011 ...EF-4 TORNADO CONFIRMED IN JOPLIN... * DATE...22 MAY 2011 * MAXIMUM EF-SCALE RATING...EF-4 * ESTIMATED MAXIMUM WIND SPEED...198 MPH * ESTIMATED PATH WIDTH...3/4 MILE * FATALITIES...116 * INJURIES...400
Here is the radar image of the storm. A bounded weak echo region is clearly visible as the cell passed through Joplin. Another hook echo is clear in a cell to the west, but the deadly tornado tracked through Joplin along I 44.
The BWER is an indication of an intense updraft in a super-cell.
From some new pics of the damage, it looks like at least a strong EF 3 or EF 4 tornado. Random events like tornadoes will sometimes happen very close together in time. The fact that this event happened just a few weeks after the April 27th outbreak is just chance. Cities are bigger now and make bigger targets. Other than that, it is just the roll of the dice that two mid size cities (Joplin and Tuscaloosa) were struck by deadly tornadoes.