Search and rescue workers in Joplin, Mo., have confirmed that 125 people were killed by the deadly tornado that ripped through the city a few days ago. Meanwhile, officials upgraded the tornado's damage-scale rating to the highest level possible.
Rescuers, struggling through continued bad weather, worked through the night to find survivors. In many cases, they found people who did not survive. The number of people missing was about 1,500, but county officials thought that the number was too high to be capturing those expected to have died in the twister; rather, officials said, many of those people fled their homes in time to escape and had found shelter with family or friends. More than 750 people were injured.
The Enhanced Fujita scale of a tornado's power and intensity has a scale that tops out at 5. Authorities initially had rated the Joplin twister an EF-4 but revised the rating upward to EF-5. Weather officials emphasized that such powerful tornadoes were rare in the United States. The Joplin twister, however, was the fourth such highly rated one so far in 2011.
It was a night of wild storms again on Wednesday in many parts of the Midwest, with tornadoes and thunderstorms being reported in several states, including Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. For the most part, the storms spared big cities but still pummeled small towns.
One small town in Arkansas reported extensive damage. Winds blew so fiercely in one Oklahoma town that they sheered the steeple clear off a church and sent it as a projectile nearly 100 yards away into the yard of the pastor's mother. Officials at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport reported golfball-sized hail, which resulted in 10,000 people spending the night because flights were canceled and planes were removed from service for fear of damage.