The death toll from the May 22nd Joplin, Missouri EF-5 tornado has risen to 151, Jasper County Coroner Rob Chappel said Thursday.
The number 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 and other victims who have since passed away from their injuries from the powerful tornado.
With the death toll at 151, the tornado is now the seventh all-time deadliest on record, when looking at official records after 1950 and unoffical records before 1950. It is also the single deadliest tornado since 1947.
The tornado death toll surpasses that from the historic April 24,1908, F-4 tornado that tore across parts of Southern Mississippi, killing 143 people along its track from Amite, Louisiana to Purvis, Mississippi, where most of the deaths and injuries occurred.
The Purvis tornado is one of three in the top eight deadliest tornadoes of all-time to strike Mississippi and the country. The Tupelo tornado in 1936 that killed 216 people ranks as the 4th single deadliest all-time, while the Natchez F-5 tornado ranks as the 2nd single deadliest all-time with as many as 317 deaths.
The single deadliest tornado still is the Tri-State Tornado that struck Missouri, Illinois and Indiana in 1925. Almost 700 people lost their lives along this tornado’s extensive track of over 200 miles.
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 ***151***
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 six miles across parts of the city, reaching up to three quarters of a 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.
Authorities say the tornado death toll still could increase, if others still in hospitals die from infections or critical injuries.
More than 1,000 people were injured in the tornado, with many still hospitalized.
The additional tornado related deaths push the 2011 death toll up to at least 537, making this the deadliest tornado year since 1936, when 552 people were killed across the country.
U.S. all-time deadliest tornado years based on unofficial records
- 1925— 794
- 1936— 552
- 1917— 551
- 1927— 540
- 1896— 537
- 2011— 537
- 1953— 519
According to the Storm Prediction Center, tornado deaths have now been confirmed in 13 states this year including in Alabama-245, Missouri-151, Tennessee-33, Mississippi-31, North Carolina-24, Georgia-15, Oklahoma-12, Arkansas-11, Virginia-6, Massachusetts-4, Kansas-3, Louisiana-1, and Minnesota-1.