May 22, 2011....one of the deadliest tornados in U.S. history strikes Joplin, Missouri directly killing 159 people and injuring over 1,000. The massive EF-5 with winds over 200 mph hit the city of more than 50,000. Despite the tornado warnings why there were so many deaths? A National Weather Service study on the Joplin tornado reveals important lessons learned:
- A majority of residents did not immediately seek shelter when tornado warnings were issued.
- People needed between two and nine risk signals to take action and seek shelter. For example, if they heard the sirens going off they would look in the sky, then go to a TV to get information and then call a friend, etc.
- The time it took between the warning and the search for confirmation of risk cost lives.
Click Here to View Full Report: NWS Central Region Service Assessment Joplin, Missouri, Tornado – May 22, 2011
What can you do?
- Listen: When severe weather is possible (Thunderstorm or Tornado Watch issued) pick a credible source of information and keep in touch with that source until the danger has past. One of the best tools is a NOAA Weather Radio (also know as an Emergency Weather Radio). Click here for more information on NOAA Weather Radios
- Act: When you hear a tornado warning (tornado seen by spotters or detected on radar) seek the best shelter you can find immediately. Don’t waste time checking multiple sources of information. You may have only seconds to find a safe place. Click here for more information on best shelter
- Live: Your chances of survival multiply. Hopefully the storm will pass with no damage. But don’t risk your life on a hope.
- Wisconsin averages 23 tornadoes annually.
- In 2013, 16 tornadoes touched down in Wisconsin including six tornadoes during the overnight hours of August 6-7. An EF 2 struck near New London in Waupaca and Outagamie counties injuring two people and caused millions of dollars in damage.
- In 2014, 22 tornadoes were reported in Wisconsin by the National Weather Service. Eighteen of those tornadoes occurred in June. The strongest tornado in 2014 occurred on June 17 when an EF 3 tornado hit Verona in Dane County. At least 30 homes were damaged as well as the Country View Elementary School. The tornado traveled about a mile, had wind speeds of 136 to 165 mph and was on the ground for several minutes. An EF 2 touched down that same night in Platteville in Grant County. Several homes and businesses were damaged including the University of Wisconsin–Platteville.
- In 2015, 17 tornadoes were reported in Wisconsin by the National Weather Service. All these tornadoes were relatively weak, ranking an EF-0 or EF-1.
- In 2016, there were 16 tornado touchdowns in the state. All of the tornadoes were either an EF0 or EF1. However, it’s not a question of if we will have a violent storm, it’s a matter of when.
- The peak tornado season in Wisconsin is April to August, but tornadoes can occur any time of year, like the January 7, 2008 storms near Kenosha.