Deadliest twister since 1950 hits Joplin, Missouri

Parker Fox, Staff Writer

118 people have been confirmed dead in Joplin, Missouri after a tornado hit the rural town of just 50,000.  Rescue crews continue to search the wrecked town in search of survivors.  The crews have focused in on department stores such as Walmart and Target and apartment complexes in hopes of revealing the greatest number of survivors.  Seventeen people have been removed from the rubble so far.

            “It’s amazing how many tornadoes there have been lately,” says junior Matt Smith.  “Its almost worse than  (Hurricane) Katrina when you look at how many places they have affected.”

            The town has been reduced to complete wreckage according to the city’s inhabitants.  Ron Smalling, who works at the Joplin hospital hit by the tornado, told NBC affiliate WBIR that the town looked like “a war zone” after the storm.  Rescuer Doug Westhoff told KSPR in Springfield, Mo., “It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve done this, it just rips your heart out when you stand and watch a family member waiting for their loved ones to be recovered from an environment like this.”

            Although it may appear that the tornado that hit Joplin is related to the deadly twisters from April, this is not the case.  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration‘s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma Gregory Carbin said they were separated by three weeks and are “completely different weather systems.”

            However, the same pattern persists with all twisters at this time of the year.  Warm, moist air moves northward from the Gulf of Mexico and meets the southward flowing jet stream, which is cold air.  When the warm and cold air comes together, it creates wind sheer and circular motions, which create tornadoes.  This year, the air from the Gulf has been abnormally warm, the probable reason for the increase in the frequency and destructiveness of tornadoes.

            “People think of Florida as being dangerous because of hurricanes, but at least we know when a hurricane is coming,” says junior Shane Smith. “The people who died in Missouri stood no chance, just like the earthquake victims in Japan.”

            Hopefully Americans will open their wallets and donate to help the victims of this disaster.  President Obama plans to travel to Joplin to assess the damage.