(ABOVE: My first, and hopefully only EF5 tornado I will ever see. Two days after the Joplin tornado, we witnessed this deadly EF5 rated tornado near Guthrie. The tornado is hidden in the rain and just looks like a scary cloud.)
There's not much to say. Not many words are needed to describe Joplin.
When a tornado basically removes half of the homes on the south side of town, you don't feel like talking.
These pictures are from my two trips to Joplin following the May 22, 2011 tornado.
As a scientist, I examine tornado paths and compare them to radar and other data so that I can be a better meteorologist and broadcaster.
As a weatherman, I snap pictures to educate school children and answer questions from civic/church groups. Education, awareness and having a plan of action are the best survival tools.
But as a person, it kills me every time. The car gets quiet. Chills, loss of appetite, the "what would we do", "how could this happen" type statements.
I have toured each F5/EF5 tornado damage path within our region the last 15 year. There haven't been many: Jarrell, TX in 1997, south Oklahoma City in 1999, Greensburg, KS in 2007 and now Joplin in 2012. My chase team also witnessed the EF 5 tornado which passed from Piedmont to near Guthrie this year.
These pictures on this page are just a few of zillions. I've tried to compare areas of Joplin to Tulsa neighborhoods for perspective.
Though some folks might frown on this and might not be able to stomach it, I do recommend a trip to Joplin to see for yourself.
Everyone tells me that it's worse than pictures can show. You won't want to eat. You may get sick. It's that bad.
A "Tornado Warning" will probably mean more to you. You probably won't yell at the TV as much when we're interrupting your favorite program with weather bulletin.
If you choose to tour the damage, you will truly respect Mother Nature's power. You'll be amazed by the huge contrast from deadly EF5 obliteration to untouched survival.
Joplin will take your breath away. George
NOTE: CLICK ON ALL PHOTOS FOR LARGER IMAGES. Though you may not want to seem them that close.
(BELOW: The damage survey and aerials. The tornado took a horrible track for Joplin. It formed along the city limits, quickly intensifying. The most intense, EF5 damage was about 6 miles long. To put this in Tulsa terms, think of a tornado forming at 41st and Riverside, moving straight east, peaking in damage at Promenade Mall. Everything between 45th and 35th streets removed-- that's how the Joplin tornado compares.)
(ABOVE: This intersection compares to 41st and Harvard in Tulsa. Before the tornado, the trees were so thick you couldn't see very far, but now what's left of the bottom floor of the high school (brown bricks in distance) can be seen about 1 mile away. BELOW: That's a Chevy 2500 series 6 wheeled truck upside down in an Arby's parking lot. I was told that six people died here. )
(ABOVE: This is EF2-EF3 damage. I will show this in presentations as why you should seek shelter on the bottom floor instead of the top floor. BELOW: Two weeks after the tornado, power lines are installed. This part of Joplin resembles near 11th and Sheridan in Tulsa. )
(ABOVE: Signs of life when we visited 6 weeks after the tornado. Some of the trees are surviving, but the neighborhood scars are permanent. BELOW: Look at concrete parking barrier on the bottom left! The other half of the concrete block follows the metal wire and is wrapped around the top of the tree.)
(ABOVE: Pictures like this one make you cringe. This Walgreens "missed" the worst of the tornado. However, debris missiles can cause grotesque injuries. BELOW: 4 crosses were at the remains of this brick home. And those used to be 100 year old trees, a densely forested neighborhood. These homes compare to midtown Tulsa.)
(ABOVE: This sounds morbid, but we were nearly playing a guessing game trying to figure out what model of cars these used to be. Maybe a 1990 Nissan Sentra? We couldn't tell. BELOW: EF4 damage in part of Joplin which resembled near 71st and Memorial in Tulsa.)
BELOW: You want to play the guessing game? What model of car do you think this is? You can see my father-in-law below looking for clues. We found a logo on the steering wheel. And a rain gutter in the back seat. )
ANSWER: the above car is a late model Toyota Corolla.