Sadly, the death toll from one of the country’s worst single tornadoes ever continues to rise.
City spokeswoman Lynn Onstot said late on Friday that the death toll from the powerful Joplin, Missouri EF-5 tornado on May 22nd had risen to 158. The additional deaths were from those still hospitalized with injuries from the devastating tornado.
The previous death toll reported as of last week was at 156.
The death toll includes Riverside Police Officer Jeff Taylor who died from injuries sustained May 23rd as he was responding to the disaster and was struck by lightning.
The Joplin tornado is one of six EF-5 tornadoes confirmed so far this year and the deadliest single United States tornado in more than 60 years and or since 1947, when looking at offical records since 1950 and unoffical records before 1950.
Single U.S. deadliest tornadoes based on unofficial records
1. 18 March 1925 Tri-State (MO/IL/IN) 695
2. 06 May 1840 Natchez, MS 317
3. 27 May 1896 St. Louis, MO 255
4. 05 April 1936 Tupelo, MS 216
5. 06 April 1936 Gainesville, GA 203
6. 09 April 1947 Woodward, OK 181
7. 22 May 2011 Joplin, Missouri ***158***
8. 24 April 1908 Amite, LA/Purvis, MS 143
According to the National Weather Service, the Joplin tornado was as violent as a tornado can get, developing into multivortex tornado with smaller more intense tornadoes orbiting the larger tornado, a very rare occurrence, as it tracked 22 miles across parts of the city, reaching up to one mile wide, just after 530 pm CDT on a Sunday evening on May 22nd.
It is believed the winds in spots along the tornado’s track reached up to 250 mph.
An estimated 8,000 structures were damaged or destroyed along the tornado’s path with damage estimates exceeding $1 billion dollars. Large box stores like Walmart and Home Depot were also totally destroyed.
Numerous vehicles of various sizes and weight including buses and truck trailers were tossed over 200 yards to a few blocks with some crushed beyond recognition. Other vehicles were compressed and wrapped around trees, and some were rolled into balls.
Authorities say the tornado death toll still could increase, if others in hospitals die from infections or critical injuries. More than 1,000 people were injured in the tornado, with an unknown number still hospitalized.