Joplin Tornado Event Summary

May 22, 2011


As we remember the two year anniversary of the Joplin EF5 tornado, the violent tornado that struck Moore, OK on Monday, May 20th again reminds us of the devastating impact that the atmosphere can have on communities.  The staff at NWS Springfield would like to take this opportunity to not only remember all those who lost their lives and those who were impacted by the Joplin tornado, but we also send our support, thoughts, and prayers to our colleagues at NWS Norman, the Storm Prediction Center, and everyone across central Oklahoma.   

On a hot and humid Sunday afternoon on May 22, 2011, a supercell thunderstorm tracked from extreme southeast Kansas into far southwest Missouri (NWS Springfield, County Warning Area).  This storm produced an EF-5 tornado over Joplin, Missouri causing incredible devastation and a tragic loss of life. This storm along with others generated additional tornadoes, wind damage and flash flooding across far southwest Missouri. 

A large portion of Joplin, Missouri was devastated by an EF-5 (greater than 200 mph) tornado resulting in 158 fatalities and over 1000 injured in the Joplin MO area. The Joplin tornado is the deadliest since modern record keeping began in 1950 and is ranked 7th among the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history.

The tornado surpassed the June 8, 1953, tornado that claimed 116 lives in Flint, Mich., as the deadliest single tornado to strike the U.S. since modern tornado recordkeeping began in 1950.  The deadliest tornado on record in the U.S. was on March 18, 1925. The “Tri-State Tornado” (MO, IL, IN) had a 291-mile path, was rated F5 based on a historic assessment, and caused 695 fatalities.

More information on 2011 Tornado statistics can be found at the following web site: 

View Larger Map

NOAA High Resolution Imagery of Joplin Tornado Damage

Warning Information:

The NWS Springfield, Mo., Weather Forecast Office issued a tornado warning  at 5:17 p.m. (local time), with 17 minutes of lead time for touchdown and 19 minutes lead time before entering Joplin. The damage path began at South Black Cat Road and Newton Road.

Additional Tornado Tracks Surveyed:

Wentworth area  - EF-2

Galena area in Stone County into northwest Taney County Missouri - EF-2 

Southwest City in western McDonald County - EF-3


Event Tornado Track KML file to view in virtual globes such as Google Earth or Virtual Globe. is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.