National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) Technical Investigation of Joplin, MO Tornado (492 page PDF File) #mowx
There’s no doubt that the Joplin, MO tornado of 22 May 2011 was a watershed event in 21st century USA weather history. A triple digit death toll had not been seen in the USA since 1953. Since then, spotter networks, improvements in radar and warning technology had reduced the overall death tolls dramatically. In light of the 3 May 1999 Bridge Creek/Moore/OKC tornado, much speculation was generated about the potential death tolls that could result from a violent, long-track EF-4 or EF-5 moving through a large metropolitan area such as Dallas/Ft. Worth. Many people, including yours truly, assumed it would take a direct hit for a triple digit death toll to occur in contemporary society. Only then, the death tolls could possibly top 100 or more. The Joplin, MO event was a dramatic wake up call that it didn’t take a large metropolitan area suffering a direct hit from a violent tornado for a 100+ fatality death toll to occur. The Joplin metro has a population of roughly 50,000 yet had a death toll of 161 from a violent EF-5 that moved through the city during a late Sunday afternoon.
The NIST has released a technical investigation of the Joplin tornado event. While rather technical, I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the atmospheric or earth sciences. A word of caution; this is a large 492 page PDF file. The download time, depending on your internet connection and computer, may take some time. Regardless, it’s a worthwhile read with a wealth of information.
As I was scanning through my Twitter timeline this afternoon, I noticed a tweet from NOAA’s Climate. gov account. The winter outlook will be issued tomorrow by the Climate Prediction Center. To better help the public understand what these outlooks mean, NOAA has put together a very nice video explaining the outlook’s content. This not only gives the general public a good understanding of what the outlook data means, but is a good tool for business owners who have a bottom line that is often dependent on climate trends. As the video states, these are not short-term forecasts that we are used to seeing every day but a long-term outlook that’s greatly influenced by a myriad of data. The outlooks are not a guarantee that specific climactic conditions will exist, so every individual user will have to figure out the best game plan for their own unique situation and needs.
I’m looking forward to seeing what the outlooks have in store. Predicting climactic trends is as daunting a task as any other in the atmospheric sciences. I hope this information has been helpful to you in understanding the climate outlooks.
Have a great week…