What the Joplin, Missouri, Tornado Sounded Like From Inside

In the time of stormchasers, we’re pretty familiar with watching tornadoes from a distance. Less often do we get a sense of what a tornado is like from the inside. Here’s a recording from inside a convenience store walk-in refrigerator as the tornado passed overhead.

satellite of joplin tornado


The tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri, last night was the deadliest single tornado since 1953—the only one since that year to make a list of the 20 deadliest single tornadoes (not outbreaks) in U.S. history. News reports are calling it an EF-4 (for the fascinating backstory behind Ted Fujita and the Fujita scale, see here), the second-highest category on the Enhanced Fujita scale, though meteorologist Jeff Masters sees evidence, specifically torn-up pavement, that suggests the tornado may have been an EF-5.

Dr. Masters also found what he calls ”the most remarkable audio I’ve ever heard of people surviving a direct hit by a violent tornado.” It is remarkable, though you should be warned that it’s harrowing, more so than any storm chaser footage I’ve ever seen. In fact, the near-complete lack of visuals is part of what makes the recording so terrifying.

Here’s a NOAA satellite image showing what the storm system looked like from above as the tornado was forming:

Joplin tornado NOAA satellite



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