Preliminary report: First May on record with no EF-3 or stronger tornadoes

(KSNF/KODE) – The Storm Prediction Center has released some surprising new statistics in its May 2021 severe weather synopsis.

The most “remarkable” statistic shows the month was the first May on record with no tornadoes that were rated EF-3 or stronger.

That’s what preliminary data is showing, at least.

Record keeping began in 1950, so this is the first May since then, across the nation, that tornadoes were on the low-end of the Enhanced Fujita scale.

However, the month saw a quantity of tornadoes.

May 2021 had 289 tornadoes across the nation, which is slightly higher than the 2011-2020 yearly average of 272.

The full report can be found on the Storm Prediction Center‘s social media.


Four-State Staycation: Cunningham Park

JOPLIN, Mo. – Cunningham Park in Joplin was a popular century-old city park with tall oak trees and an iconic ban stand. That all changed May 22, 2011.

The park found itself in the path of the catastrophic EF5 tornado that hit Joplin.

“We lost every blade of grass out of this park ten years ago,” said Patrick Tuttle of Visit Joplin MO. “So what the park service has done to bring this back to life with donations and a lot of sweat equity make it a beautiful landmark for the city.”

As Joplin rebuilt following the tornado, officials decided to make Cunningham Park stand as a tribute to those who lost their lives and community’s ability recover. It’s home to several landmarks telling the story of the Joplin tornado. That includes the butterfly garden, a plaque with the 161 names of those passed, pencil sketch houses and more.

“(Cunningham Park) is very much a tribute to the survivors of the tornado, and I also got to say that the resilience of the people that we have with the families that bounces back. They put their boots up, got their houses cleaned up and rebuilt,” said Tuttle.

On the 10th anniversary of the tornado, Cunningham Park will be the site of the annual Memorial Run and a special remembrance ceremony later in the day. The Memorial Run begins at 6:30 a.m. and the remembrance ceremony begins at 5:15 p.m.


Joplin Hope Center provides blueprint for communities recovering from natural disaster

JOPLIN, Mo. – Joplin officials are working on a digital information storehouse with source material from the tornado recovery plan, which has received national recognition.

The Joplin Hope Center for Disaster Recovery is a partnership between MSSU, Joplin Schools, and the City of Joplin. It’s designed to provide a blueprint for other cities recovering from a natural disaster. State Farm Wednesday made a donation to the project.

“Well it’s just good to remember how far we’ve come,” said State Farm Agent Jerry Sitton. “It’s bad to remember what it was. It’s good to remember what we can do and going forward.”

Officials say the donation will go towards equipment maintenance and new fiber-optic cables.


City of Joplin is recognized for rebuilding after the May 22, 2011 tornado

The City of Joplin is being recognized for its work rebuilding after the May 22, 2011 tornado.

Monday Night the Olsson Engineering and Design Firm presented Joplin Public Works with the American Public Works Association Project of the Year award.

Olsson was the primary consultant for the $56.7 Million Green Area Infrastructure Revitalization project in Joplin.

David Hertzberg, Director of Public Works said, “tis project since the tornado has been one that is really rewarding in a way from the very start. its been one that you feel like you really helped somebody.”

John Olsson, Olsson Executive Vice President said, “It had something to do with the grit and resilience that was demonstrated by the community to hang together for so long to build it better than it was.”

The project focused on repairing 40 miles of streets, 20 miles of sidewalks and numerous storm water systems.


Joplin’s infrastructure recovery effort named Project of the Year

JOPLIN, Mo. – Joplin’s Infrastructure Recovery Project following the 2011 tornado receives recognition as project of the year.

The engineering and design firm Olsson announced the award from the American Public Works Association at Monday night’s city council meeting. Olsson served as the primary consultant for the city’s $56-million green area infrastructure revitalization plan.

“It’s very nice to be able to be recognized for what you’ve done,” said Olsson Vice President Jack Schaller. “But this is a truly collaborative effort. This is something the contractors, the city and the consultants were all pulling the rope the same direction. (They) have the eye on the prize of trying to get this rebuilt for our citizens, for the people that live here.”

Joplin received the award for disaster or emergency construction and repair in the $25-million to $75-million category.


Red Cross/MSSU partnership proved invaluable after the tornado

JOPLIN, Mo. – Ahead of the 2011 tornado, Missouri Southern and the Red Cross formed a partnership, and it proved to be vital when disaster struck.

That partnership designated Missouri Southern as a shelter for people to use following a natural disaster. After the tornado hit, Chris Harmon with the Red Cross says officials quickly took action.

“Wait a minute we got this,” said Harmon recalling the moments after the tornado. “I pulled out of the agreement, I’m looking at the facility and Debbie is like I’m going down there. She was immediately able to open up doors and people were able to show up. That university became the focal point and the reason that response was so successful.”

The agreement between MSSU and the Red Cross has expired but officials say they’re working on another one.


TORNADO WATCH issued for parts of the Four State region until 8pm Wednesday

(KSNF/KODE) — A Tornado Watch is in effect for counties in southwest Missouri, northeast Oklahoma, and northwest Arkansas.

A WATCH means atmospheric conditions are favorable for tornadoes to develop.

Remember, it takes many ingredients in the atmosphere to come together so a tornado is possible for the counties in RED.

Download our mobile app for both Apple and Google Play to get an alert when a severe storm is near you.

Stay weather aware this St. Patrick’s Day!


Extreme February weather damages Mercy Park Butterfly Mural

JOPLIN, Mo. – Mother Nature takes its toll on a mural dedicated to Joplin’s recovery following the 2011 tornado. The recent rains, snow and subfreezing temperatures caused two tiles of the Butterfly Mural in Mercy Park to come loose and break.

Joplin Parks and Recreation workers found the damage and removed several other pieces of the tile mural to protect them. Paul Whitehill of Whitehill Enterprises, who oversaw the project’s design and installation, said weather played a role in the damage.

“Last month’s freezing and thawing allowed moisture to seep in behind the tiles and weakened the adhesive that holds them to the wall,” said Whitehill. “All the tiles of the Butterfly Mural will be removed, each assessed, the wall will again be treated with a moisture barrier, then restored. The two broken tiles will need to be manufactured.”

A different cap or moisture deflector is being considered for the top of the wall which also holds the Together We Create mural on the opposite side. Joplin Convention & Visitors Bureau director Patrick Tuttle hopes the mural repaired in time for the 10th anniversary of the Joplin tornado.

“We are hoping the restoration can be accomplished in time for this year’s May 22, 10-year remembrance,” said Tuttle. “The mural has served as part of the community’s healing process.”

The Butter Fly Mural was commissioned and installed to mark 5th anniversary of the May 22 tornado in 2016. It’s located on the site where St. John’s Hospital once stood, before it was destroyed by the storm. That land was turned into a public space known today as Mercy Park. According to the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau, “The butterfly mural represents the transformation of our city and the hope for a beautiful future.”


Fast facts you need to know about tornados

Here’s some background information about tornadoes, rotating columns of air that often, but not always, are visible as funnel clouds. According to the National Weather Service, in 2020 there were 76 tornado-related deaths in the United States.


Most tornadoes form from severe thunderstorms. Hurricanes can also produce tornadoes.

Tornado winds may exceed 300 miles (483 kilometers) per hour.

Tornadoes can lift cars, mobile homes and animals into the air.

Tornadoes are sometimes called “twisters.”

On average, tornadoes travel at around 10-20 miles per hour.

The average tornado is on the ground about five minutes.

The most destructive and deadly tornadoes occur from supercells, which are rotating thunderstorms with a well-defined radar circulation called a mesocyclone. Supercells can also produce damaging hail, severe non-tornadic winds, unusually frequent lightning, and flash floods.

A tornado over a body of water is called a “waterspout.”

The United States has the highest number of tornado occurrences in the world with an average of more than 1,000 tornadoes reported each year.

A disproportionately high frequency of tornadoes occurs in Florida and a region called “Tornado Alley,” which spans across the central southern plans.

Tornadoes usually occur during the spring and early summer, most often in the late afternoon and early evening.

tornado watch is issued by the National Weather Service when atmospheric conditions promote the forming of tornadoes.

tornado warning is issued when Doppler radar detects a mesocyclone in a thunderstorm or when a funnel cloud has been spotted.

A tornado emergency is enhanced wording in a tornado warning indicating a large tornado is moving into a heavily populated area. A severe threat to human life and catastrophic damage from a tornado is imminent or ongoing. The term was coined by forecasters in May 1999 and is used sparingly.

Enhanced Fujita Scale

The Enhanced Fujita scale became operational on February 1, 2007. It is used to assign a tornado a rating based on estimated wind speed and damage the tornado causes.

EF0 is the weakest point on the Enhanced Fujita Scale and EF5 is the strongest.


March 18, 1925 – The deadliest US tornado in modern history hits the tri-state area of Missouri, Illinois and Indiana, killing 695 people. It is the longest-lived and has the longest path of any recorded US tornado.

1950 – The United States begins keeping official records about tornadoes.

February 2, 2007 – At least 20 people are killed in Lake and Volusia counties in Florida after at least three tornadoes touch down in the middle of the night.

March 1, 2007 – At least 20 people are killed, one in Missouri, 10 in Alabama, and nine in Georgia from a string of tornadoes. In Alabama, eight of the 10 killed are teenagers from Enterprise High School in Enterprise, Alabama.

February 5-6, 2008 – At least 57 people are killed, 31 in Tennessee, 14 in Arkansas, seven in Kentucky and five in Alabama from a string of tornadoes.

March 14, 2008 – A tornado reaching EF2 strength hits downtown Atlanta, damaging the Georgia World Congress Center, CNN Center, the Georgia Dome and many other buildings. One person is killed in a building collapse.

May 9-11, 2008  A series of tornadoes kills 22 in three states including six in Ottawa County, Oklahoma; 13 in Newton County, Missouri; one in Jasper County, Missouri; one in an area of Purdy in Barry County, Missouri, and one in Laurens County, Georgia.

April 14-16, 2011  At least 114 tornadoes touch down in Oklahoma, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Missouri, Illinois, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Arkansas and Pennsylvania. Of the 46 fatalities reported, 23 occur in North Carolina.

April 25-28, 2011 – A record-setting outbreak of 362 confirmed tornadoes occurs. There are approximately 321 fatalities in six states during the entire outbreak. The majority of fatalities occur in Alabama, where as many as 249 people are killed. Other states reporting fatalities are Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia and Arkansas.

May 22, 2011 – An EF5 tornado strikes Joplin, Missouri, killing at least 158 people. It is the deadliest single US tornado since federal record-keeping began in 1950. The tri-state tornado of 1925 is still the deadliest tornado in modern US history.

May 24, 2011 – Tornadoes strike Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas, killing at least 18 people.

2011 – NOAA reports that 757 tornadoes touched down across the United States in April 2011, breaking the previous monthly record of 542 tornadoes in May 2003.

May 20, 2013 – An EF5 tornado hits Moore, Oklahoma. The path of the tornado is 17 miles long. Twenty-four people are killed.

January 20-22, 2017 – Twenty people are killed – more than in all of 2016 – during an outbreak of twisters stretching from Texas to South Carolina. More than 80 tornadoes are preliminarily reported over three days, with more than 60 reported on January 21 alone, according to NOAA.

March 3, 2019 – An outbreak of tornadoes touches down in Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. In Lee County, Alabama, an EF4 tornado kills 23 people, making it the deadliest day for tornadoes in Alabama since the Tuscaloosa-Birmingham tornado that killed more than 200 people in 2011.

March 3, 2020 – Two tornadoes strike central Tennessee killing at least 24 people.

Top 10 Deadliest Single US Tornadoes

(Source: NOAA/NWS Storm Prediction Center)

March 18, 1925  Tri-state area of Missouri, Illinois and Indiana – 695 fatalities.

May 6, 1840  Natchez, Mississippi – 317 fatalities.

May 27, 1896 – St. Louis, Missouri – 255 fatalities.

April 5, 1936 – Tupelo, Mississippi – 216 fatalities.

April 6, 1936 – Gainesville, Georgia – 203 fatalities.

April 9, 1947 – Woodward, Oklahoma – 181 fatalities.

May 22, 2011 – Joplin, Missouri – 158 fatalities.

April 24, 1908 – Amite, Louisiana and Purvis, Mississippi – 143 fatalities.

June 12, 1899 – New Richmond, Wisconsin – 117 fatalities.

June 8, 1953 – Flint, Michigan – 116 fatalities.

Top 10 Costliest Tornadoes since 1950 (in 2015 dollars)

(Source: NOAA/NWS Storm Prediction Center)

May 22, 2011 – Joplin, Missouri – $2.8 billion (actual cost) – $2.92 billion (adjusted for inflation)

April 27, 2011 – Tuscaloosa, Alabama – $2.45 billion (actual cost) – $2.56 billion (adjusted for inflation)

May 20, 2013 – Moore, Oklahoma – $2 billion (actual cost) – $2.09 billion (adjusted for inflation)

June 8, 1966 – Topeka, Kansas – $250 million (actual cost) – about $1.81 billion (adjusted for inflation)

May 11, 1970 – Lubbock, Texas – $250 million (actual cost) – $1.5 billion (adjusted for inflation)

May 3, 1999 – Moore/Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – $1 billion (actual cost) – $1.4 billion (adjusted for inflation)

April 27, 2011 – Hackleburg, Alabama – $1.3 billion (actual cost) – about $1.35 billion (adjusted for inflation)

April 3, 1974 – Xenia, Ohio – $250 million (actual cost) – $1.19 billion (adjusted for inflation)

May 6, 1975 – Omaha, Nebraska – $250 million (actual cost) – $1.09 billion (adjusted for inflation)

April 10, 1979 – Wichita Falls, Texas – $277 million (actual cost) – about $898 million (adjusted for inflation)