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Joplin, Mo., Tornado Reconnaissance Team -- Day 3

Case Studies Compiled for Future Review

The most powerful tornado ever recorded in the United States tore through Joplin, Mo., on May 22, causing at least 130 fatalities and the destruction of about 8,000 structures along the vast tornado path. David O. Prevatt, Ph.D, P.E., M.ASCE, of the University of Florida’s Department of Civil and Coastal Engineering, along with graduate student David Roueche, are leading a team of researchers from University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa), Iowa State University, Oregon State University and South Dakota State University, as well as representatives from Simpson Strong-Tie, the Applied Technology Council and local practicing engineers. Beginning Sunday, May 29, through Thursday June 2, the group is surveying the damage caused to residential buildings, critical facilities such as hospitals, and schools from the tornado, in order to relate the damage to estimates of wind speed (where possible) and wind pressure. The team will also record construction methods observed, and the building codes in force at the time of construction.  Over the next few days, Prevatt and his teammates will post their findings here. 

Read each day's entries:
Day 1  |  Day 2  |  Day 3

Day 3 – Monday, May 31

ASCE reconnaisance team vehicleOnce again the damage assessment team got an early start on the day, arriving in Joplin around 8 a.m. The same teams from yesterday stayed together again and finished up the remaining transects.

After the transects had been completed, the team met back at the hotel to continue with the mapping process and the generating of case study reports. For the bulk of the afternoon, the team began to work through the many photos of the damage that had been taken, assigning DOD ratings taken from the National Weather Service rating service. From these ratings, estimates of the wind speed are taken and EF ratings applied.

By the end of the afternoon, all the photos from the previous day had been rated. Over the course of the evening the work focused more on generating the case studies, from the photographs and field notes, and plotting the photos into the GIS maps with the applicable ratings. Overall much progress has been made.

Click to view the case study of one Joplin residence.