A tornado ripped quickly through the small, southeast Missouri town of Joplin Sunday evening, “[cutting] the city in half,” according to a fire department source there and killing 89 people confirmed so far, a number that may continue to rise. Early reports from the scene are indicating the twister could have been an F4, or even an F5, the largest tornado possible. Less than one percent of all tornadoes ever reach the scale of an F4 tornado and F5′s are even more rare.
The city is roughly 225 miles south of Kansas City and has a population of 50,000.
The tornado struck on the south side of the city with such a force that is leveled homes, restaurants, churches and seems to have directly struck a multilevel hospital there. A state of emergency has been declared, and a federal state of emergency is expected.
This latest tornado comes on the heels of a rash of tornadoes during Easter weekend in April. On Good Friday, an F4 tornado touched down in St. Louis, Missouri, lifting the roof off an entire concourse at St. Louis’ Lambert International Airport, but luckily suffering no fatalities. The next day, Vilonia, Arkansas dealt with its own tornado, one in which nearly a dozen people lost their lives. Then again, shortly after the twisters in Arkansas, a tornado went through the middle of the college town of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, killing several dozen there, demolishing several buildings throughout, effectively shutting the town down.