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StEER Releases EARR on Tornado in Missouri

At around 11:40 PM on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 an EF-3 tornado struck Jefferson City, the capital of the state of Missouri, causing extensive structural damage. The tornado formed near Eldon, MO and traveled from southwest to northeast for 19.5 miles before dissipating just east-northeast of Jefferson City, MO. The heaviest damage was experienced along the 5 mile portion of the path through Jefferson City, MO and achieving an estimated peak wind speed of 160 mph, based on National Weather Service (NWS). Coincidentally, eight years ago, on the same day, an EF-5 tornado struck Joplin, MO, just 200 miles southwest of Jefferson City. The damage to the downtown portion of a capital city warranted more detailed structural investigation through a StEER Field Assessment Structural Team (FAST), which was led by the Wind Hazard Mitigation (WHAM) laboratory of Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T). Deployments were conducted between May 23 and May 28 to collect the perishable data utilizing door-to-door assessments, Lidar scanning and drones. This Early Access Reconnaissance Report (EARR) provides an overview of Jefferson City Tornado, MO of 22 May 2019, StEER’s event response, and preliminary findings based on FAST-1’s collected data.


In general, FAST-1 observed that the tornado completely destroyed or severely damaged numerous homes and business as it passed through the city. For example, some apartment buildings in Hawthorne Park Apartment complex were destroyed; a number of historical buildings downtown were severely damaged; a long reinforced masonry wall of the old State Penitentiary (1 foot thick) was knocked down; a number of power poles for transmission lines fell to the ground, as shown in the figures at the very end of this file. Along the tornado path, a variety of trees were snapped and uprooted. Fortunately, no fatalities were reported. It has been ranked as EF-3 by NWS.


All observations and findings provided in this report should be considered preliminary and are based on the limited scope of FAST-1. FAST-1’s primary focus was structural damage to buildings in and around the tornado’s path. The majority of the structures assessed by the FAST-1 were considered historic, with the average year built being 1933, and the newest building constructed in 1990. Specific recommendations of areas worthy of further investigation by the community are offered at the conclusion of this report. Specific recommendations of areas worthy of further investigation are offered at the conclusion of this report.


Access the full report HERE.

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. CMMI 1841667. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of StEER and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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