Tuesday, July 26, 2011

NIST to Conduct Technical Study on Impacts of Joplin, Mo., Tornado

For Immediate Release: July 25, 2011
Contact: Michael E. Newman

GAITHERSBURG, Md.—The Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today said that it will conduct a full technical study on the impacts of the May 22, 2011, tornado that struck Joplin, Mo.
The massive tornado was rated category EF5, the most powerful on the Enhanced Fujita scale. According to the National Weather Service (NWS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the multiple-vortex storm impacted an area approximately three-quarters of a mile wide by 14 miles long, destroyed some 8,000 structures in its path, and killed more than 150 people. This makes it the single deadliest tornado in the United States in the 61 years that official records have been kept.
“The widespread destruction across a range of building and construction types, along with the tragically large death toll despite a comparatively substantial warning time, makes the Joplin tornado a unique event to research,” says Marc Levitan, leader of the NIST study. “The lessons learned will be extremely valuable to national efforts aimed at reducing losses of lives and property from tornados.”
From May 25-28, NIST sent four engineers to Joplin to conduct a preliminary reconnaissance of building performance and emergency communications during the tornado. Based on the analysis of the data collected and other criteria required by regulation, NIST Director Pat Gallagher established a research team under the National Construction Safety Team Act to proceed with a more comprehensive study of the impacts of the disaster.

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