Press Release Summary:
NIST will conduct full technical study on impacts of May 22, 2011 tornado, rated category EF5 on Enhanced Fujita scale, that struck Joplin, MO. According to NWS and FEMA, this multiple-vortex storm impacted area ~¾ of a mile wide x 14 miles long, destroyed 8,000 structures in its path, and killed 150+ people. Marc Levitan, leader of NIST study, said "lessons learned will be extremely valuable to national efforts aimed at reducing losses of lives and property from tornados."
Original Press Release:
NIST to Conduct Technical Study on Impacts of Joplin, Mo.,Tornado
GAITHERSBURG, Md.-The Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today said that it will conduct a full technical study on the impacts of the May 22, 2011, tornado that struck Joplin, Mo.
The massive tornado was rated category EF5, the most powerful on the Enhanced Fujita scale. According to the National Weather Service (NWS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the multiple-vortex storm impacted an area approximately three-quarters of a mile wide by 14 miles long, destroyed some 8,000 structures in its path, and killed more than 150 people. This makes it the single deadliest tornado in the United States in the 61 years that official records have been kept.
"The widespread destruction across a range of building and construction types, along with the tragically large death toll despite a comparatively substantial warning time, makes the Joplin tornado a unique event to research," says Marc Levitan, leader of the NIST study. "The lessons learned will be extremely valuable to national efforts aimed at reducing losses of lives and property from tornados."
From May 25-28, NIST sent four engineers to Joplin to conduct a preliminary reconnaissance of building performance and emergency communications during the tornado. Based on the analysis of the data collected and other criteria required by regulation, NIST Director Pat Gallagher established a research team under the National Construction Safety Team Act to proceed with a more comprehensive study of the impacts of the disaster.
The objectives of the NIST technical study are to:
The same engineers who performed the preliminary reconnaissance will conduct this more extensive study. They will be joined by an expert on severe storms from the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Observations and findings from the preliminary reconnaissance suggest the following:
Both the NIST preliminary reconnaissance and the upcoming technical study led by NIST build on a partnership between the agency's Disaster and Failure Studies Program and the interagency National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program. For more information on the Joplin tornado study, and NIST's 40-plus years of experience studying structural failures and fires, visit http://nist.gov/el/investigations/bfrl-investigations.cfm.
As a nonregulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.