National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Test Tornado Warning Activates Wireless Emergency Alerts on Cell Phones

A test of our tornado warning system today as part of Severe Weather Awareness Week was not intended to be broadcast as a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA). The new code for our Common Alerting Protocol Handler, implemented last week, mistakenly allowed the test to go out over WEA as an actual warning. The software was fixed immediately. Read More >


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: 

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.

Joplin Tornado
Image Image Image
nws logo Media use of NWS Web News Stories is encouraged!
Please acknowledge the NWS as the source of any news information accessed from this site.
nws logo