Monday, May 23, 2011

American Armageddon

I have no idea what is happening in the United States, but something is. It is as though the nation is being torn apart, piece by piece. Watching the floods in Louisiana engulfing homes and leaving thousands homeless is like watching disaster in slow motion, and it's mortifying - but to add tornadoes to the mix makes it beyond unbearable.

Dozens are dead and even more injured after nearly 50 tornadoes tore though parts of the Midwest on Sunday.

At least 89 people were killed in Joplin, Mo., which received the worst of the severe weather.

If the death toll in Joplin reaches 115, it will be in the top 10 deadliest tornadoes in all time, none of which have occurred since 1953 according to the Storm Prediction Center.

This story will be continually updated throughout the day as more information becomes available.

More Severe Weather Expected Today

The area will have little time to clean up as another round of severe weather is expected again today.

Radar shows a complex of thunderstorms bearing down on the Joplin area at the present time.

1 inch diameter hail was just reported in the vicinity of Joplin Municipal Airport along with wind gusts to near 40 mph.

Torrential downpours and frequent lightning associated with these thunderstorms will interfere with cleanup efforts. Localized flash flooding is likely as the ground is already saturated due to above normal rainfall the last two months.

High winds could cause additional damage and may topple cranes which are in the city helping with the cleanup.

A 62 mph wind gust was reported in Coffeyville, Kan. about 65 miles west of Joplin as these thunderstorms rolled through.

Widespread Destruction From Yesterday's Tornado

Damage was widespread across the city as homes, schools and a hospital were hit by a massive tornado.

According to Senior Meteorologist Alan Reppert, x-ray films from the hospital were found 70 miles away in a driveway.

Meanwhile, school has already been canceled on Monday with one of the Joplin School District's buildings receiving catastrophic damage.

Many of the dead were residents looking to seek shelter when the buildings they were in collapsed.

The tornado traveled 6 miles from the west side of the city to the southeast portion. The southern edge of the city was the hardest hit. The tornado ranged from half a mile to three-quarters of a mile wide. While the exact strength of the storm is yet to be determined, it could be upwards of an EF4.

According to Kathy Dennis of the American Red Cross, "75% of the town is virtually gone."

Scenes from the city look much like those of the tornadoes that claimed more than 300 lives in the Southeast last month.

Throughout the city, roads are littered with downed trees and buildings, making them nearly impassable. Interstate 44 also had significant damage as 20 cars and tractor-trailers were overturned.

According to the Associated Press, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard, while emergency crews were conducting search and rescue operations.

The number of dead is expected to rise as the crews sort through the rubble.

These storms are part of a larger system that triggered severe weather that killed one person in Kansas on Saturday night and caused damage from Minnesota to Texas on Sunday.

At least one person was killed and 29 injured in storms that hit Minneapolis, Minn. Meanwhile, La Crosse, Wis., was also hit hard as winds tore roofs off homes and trapped residents inside.

As I listen to the news my heart literally sinks. My youngest daughter lives very close to Joplin, and I have friends in the area accounted for. You feel so helpless, but I told my daughter that if she could get in with a trailer under the guidance of a rescue group I would finance her efforts. At times like this you just don't know what else to do .... beside pray with diligence, and cry for and with those whose lives are irreversibly shattered.

Reality is the leading cause of stress for those who are in touch with it. ~ Lily Tomlin