Severe weather once again has turned deadly in the United States as tornadoes ripped across the heartland. At least one person died near Minneapolis on Sunday but another, more significant tornado struck the southwestern Missouri town of Joplin where at least 89 have been killed.
What appears to have been at least an EF-4 rated tornado on the Enhanced Fujita Scale caused utter devastation in Joplin, Missouri. Parts of the town of 49,000 were reduced to rubble as the twister struck with extraordinary force.
- Slideshow: Images of the destruction in Joplin, MO
- Video: Aerial footage shows extent of damage in Joplin
Like an arrow to a target, the tornado struck the center of the town with the densest population. At least 89 people have been confirmed killed and dozens more injured.
Cars were strewn about like children’s toys and homes and businesses were reduced to little more than rubble. The Missouri Emergency Management Department reports that 2,000 structures have been destroyed.
The scene was eerily reminiscent of the devastation seen in Alabama last month when tornadoes killed more than 300 people.
St. John’s Regional Medical Center sustained a near direct hit blowing out virtually every window in the multistory facility. A medical helicopter was flipped by the tornado and dozens of cars were piled up into a mass of metal in the parking lot. X-rays and other items from the hospital were found 70 miles away in Greene County.
Kerry Sachetta, the principal of Joplin High School, told the Associated Press, “You see pictures of World War II, the devastation and all that with the bombing. That’s really what it looked like.” The school was flattened by the tornado.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon activated the state’s National Guard to assist with search and rescue efforts and the Missouri Highway Patrol was deploying additional resources to the area. A shelter has been established at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin.
- Related: Top 25 deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history
In Minnesota, a tornado ripped across western Minneapolis before crossing into the northern suburbs. At least 100 homes were damaged and trees and power lines were snapped as if they were merely twigs. One person was killed and 29 others injured.
The tornadoes in Missouri and Minnesota were part of a larger severe weather outbreak across much of the nation’s mid-section. In all, 48 tornadoes were reported in seven states on Sunday and hundreds of reports of powerful winds and damaging hail were received by the Storm Prediction Center.
The National Weather Service was deploying damage assessment teams to the areas hit by the severe weather on Sunday. They will work to determine the actual strength and rating of the tornadoes as well as their actual number.
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