Thank You, Joplin

Mindy and I had an enjoyable day in Joplin.

I can't seem to figure out how to embed the video, so if you would like to see KOAM TV's coverage, click here and if you would like to see KSNF's, it is here and here. Thanks to both Doug Heady and Gary Bandy for the interviews!

The city is gearing up for the one-year commemoration which is Tuesday. Mindy, I and the rest of the nation are cheering for Joplin's continued recovery from that horrible storm.


  1. Mike: One of the issues the KSNF interviewer raised was one of perspective. He seems to think that the warning system, flawed though it was, still saved many MORE lives than it cost.

    I think he might have a point. In the absence of ANY warning system at all, as would have been the case prior to the 1950s, wouldn't the death toll have been much worse? While in the presence of a warning system that functioned perfectly or nearly so, the death toll might have been "only" in the double digits as you said.

    My guess is that with no warning at all the outcome would have been similar to Woodward, OK, in 1947, which lost 107 people out of a population at that time of about 5,400 (1940 census).

    If there were 50,000 residents in Joplin in 2011 that makes it almost 10 times the size of 1940s Woodward; and therefore the death toll could be expected to be almost 10 times as high... meaning roughly 900 to 1,000 people would have died in the COMPLETE absence of any warning!

    However, if the warning system had worked exactly "right" I'm thinking the death toll would have been more comparable to that of Tuscaloosa on April 27th, or OKC in 1999. About 50 people died in Tuscaloosa, which is a somewhat larger city of 80,000+; so I'm going to guess that about 35-40 would have died in Joplin even under a "perfect" warning system scenario. Does that make sense?


  2. Hi Elaine, I think your estimate of number of deaths in Joplin with a perfect warning is in the ballpark.

    One thing about the death toll in Tuscaloosa: The power had been out since morning in some parts of the town and some people could not get the warning because they had no TV and their cells phones didn't work (the cell towers' batteries had died). So, that might have inflated their death toll a bit which makes the contrast with Joplin's 161 even more stark.

    Almost the entire town of Woodward was destroyed whereas about 20% of Joplin suffered that fate. So, you can't scale Woodward upward to Joplin. I do not believe that 1,000 would have been killed without a warning in Joplin.

  3. First, I don't think the interviewer liked you very much, Mike. This was one of the most "uncomfortable" interviews I've ever watched. He kept wringing his hands like he wanted to strangle you. I'd suggest staying away from that guy in the future, unless you have one or two other folks with you at the time...

    Anyway... the interviewer stated at one point that Joplin was never in a moderate or high risk of severe weather that day. That is not true. The SPC upgraded to a moderate risk (including a Public Severe Weather Outlook) with the 13z outlook that morning:

    Furthermore, the area had already been placed within the "significant" tornado category as of the pre-dawn outlook issued just after Midnight that morning.

    So, to imply that the event was not FORECAST is inaccurate, in my opinion.

    I do completely agree that the WARNING portion of the process was a complete failure. Not so much with respect to the sirens (I regard them as old school technology and very ineffective, particularly when abused as they were for years prior in the Joplin area) but with respect to the completely botched method in which multiple warnings gave confusing, mixed signals in a very short, very important period of time.

    With the above said, I should probably point out that I have not yet read your book. I will be waiting for the iBook version - I have too many door stops around my house as it is (not to imply that your latest effort will fall into that category, but I think you get my drift).

  4. Hi Roger. The tornado is still a raw memory to many.

    The Kindle version was uploaded about 12 hr. ago and I hope it will be available later today (Sat.).


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