The fearsome destructiveness of the Joplin tornado can be grasped through the heartbreaking before and after interactive satellite views at the NYT. You can alter the scope of the image and "draw the curtain" back and forth across the image to see the horrifying change.
Tornadic activity has continued across the region in the last several days. The tiny town of Denning, Arkansas, was devasted on Tuesday night, and four people died. I guess the closer you are to disasters, the worse they seem. NBC News last night told of a woman who was giving her three young children a bath when a tornado hit—this was not in Joplin, but in a more recent tornado in Texas or Oklahoma—and, after she and two of the children were rescued, the one-year-old died at the hospital while the search for the missing three-year-old continued. Any parent can only recoil in shock at stories like that. NBC also profiled a young widow whose husband had lain on top of her in a bathtub to protect her. As their house was torn away by the fury around them, he died of a puncture wound to his back; she—thanks to him—survived.
Here's an interactive map of tornado deaths so far this year in the U.S. Move the slider to key the fatalities to the date.
We can only hope the worst is over.
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Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Michael: "Appalling. I have to say that the string of disasters we've been experiencing these past few years are starting to cumulatively get to me. 9/11, the train station bombing in Spain, the 2005 Christmas tsunami, the floods in Pakistan, the quake in Chile, the trilogy of incidents in Japan. Now this.
"One of the contributing factors, I think, is the impact that the visuals have. Discounting the world's many current wars and the 2008 economic disaster (if only for the sake of this discussion) we're getting more detailed, more timely, and certainly more eyewitness views of these things. I feel more drawn into these things these days."
Featured Comment by James: "Mike, you were astute to research and observe that the U.K. has more 'tornadoes' per year than any other country, which I did not know, but that new knowledge for me has the effect of increasing my support and admiration for people in the U.S. who live under the threat of 'proper' tornadoes.
"I have just once in my life been in a tornado situation, and it was in Alberta, far out onto the prairie, and late on a summer afternoon. A very small tornado touched down about a mile away. It drifted sideways for a couple of minutes, then disappeared. We carried on working. Later that day, some of us took some surplus targets to the area where the tornado had been. The damage was significant: fence posts at all angles, a navigation cairn of fist-sized rocks was scattered all about, and a slender 20 metre tall radio relay mast was knocked over and broken into several pieces. That was a tornado that barely made us pause as it passed by a mile away, a tornado that probably was too small to be tracked by any weather service, that probably did not make '1' on the scale."