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Timeline: The May 22, 2011 Joplin tornado

Posted: 11:59 AM, May 18, 2016
Updated: 2016-05-18 19:00:47Z

The events of May 22, 2011 scarred Joplin, Mo. physically and took an unimaginable emotional toll on its people. As the community marks the progress five year's later, here is a look back at how the storm played out.

"The Joplin tornado is the deadliest single tornado since modern recordkeeping began in 1950 and is ranked as the 7th deadliest in U.S. history." -- National Weather Service

The National Weather Service (NWS) Storm Prediction Center highlighted southwest Missouri for the potential for severe weather several days prior to Sunday's storm. It had also issued a tornado watch more than four hours in advance of the tornado touching down. 

TIMELINE (Source: National Weather Service)

5:11 p.m. Initial 3 minute siren alert sounded for Jasper County and Joplin.

5:17 p.m. The NWS Springfield, Mo., Weather Forecast Office issued a tornado warning with 17 minutes of lead time for touchdown and 19 minutes lead time before the tornado entered Joplin. 

5:34 p.m. Approximate initial Tornado touchdown is about half a mile southwest of JJ Highway and Newton Road (southwest of Joplin City limits).

5:41 p.m. The local storm report stated: “NUMEROUS REPORTS OF TORNADO ON THE GROUND WEST OF JOPLIN AND POWER FLASHES.”  

The EF-5 Joplin tornado had winds in excess of 200 mph, was nearly a mile wide, and had a track lasting six miles. It left an estimated 161 people dead and damaged some 8,000 structures.

7:30 p.m. A first report of confirmed dead comes in, estimated at 24 people. Communications are difficult with power lines and phone lines down from the storm. Interstate 44 is closed due to overturned tractor trailers. (Source: helpjoplin.com)

Click on the icons to see structures and landmarks damaged or destroyed on May 22, 2011