There seems to be a lot of misinformation about these two storms, lets take Joplin first.
|Photo by Jamie Green, "The Wichita Eagle," of St. John's Hospital in Joplin|
which took a direct hit from the tornado.
I watched a major news network proclaim, moments ago, that Joplin was "caught off guard." This is not true, there were advance warnings available from both the media and tornado sirens. Via one report, people continued to practice on the driving range as the sirens screamed (see my report regarding public officials training people to ignore tornado sirens in this report).
You can hear the sirens sounding in Jamie Green's video available here. A screen capture from her video of the tornado as it caused power lines to arc.
The watch was issued 4 hours, 15 minutes before the tornado.
I don't know why so many have apparently lost their lives but it does not seem to be lack of warning based on initial information.
One fatality has been reported, details from the Star-Tribune here.
Just yesterday, I heard a man tell me (and he was serious) that tornadoes do not hit cities with rivers. This, he said, was based on an Indian legend. I have no clue as to why this urban legend is so tenacious. Tornadoes do not care where rivers are located. Think about it: Minneapolis has the Mississippi running through it as does St. Louis which was hit April 22nd.
|Photo from the Minneapolis "Star-Tribune"|
I really worry these urban legends may lead to people failing to act when warnings are issued. When you combine this with the now-silly "all or nothing" siren systems that generate unnecessary false alarms it is a wonder the warning system is able to save as many lives as it does.