On May 22, 2011, one of the deadliest tornadoes in United States history struck Joplin, Missouri, directly killing 158 people and injuring over 1,000. The tornado, rated EF-5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, with maximum winds over 200 mph, affected a significant part of a city with a population of more than 50,000 and a population density near 1,500 people per square mile. As a result, the Joplin tornado was the first single tornado in the United States to result in over 100 fatalities since the Flint, Michigan, tornado of June 8, 1953.
Because of the rarity and historical significance of this event, a regional Service Assessment team was formed to examine warning and forecast services provided by the National Weather Service. Furthermore, because of the large number of fatalities that resulted from a warned tornado event, this Service Assessment will provide additional focus on dissemination, preparedness, and warning response within the community as they relate to NWS services.
Service Assessments provide a valuable contribution to ongoing efforts by the National Weather Service to improve the quality, timeliness, and value of our products and services. Findings and recommendations from this assessment will improve techniques, products, services, and information provided to our partners and the American public.
Lynn P. Maximuk
Director, Central Region
National Weather Service