The tornado initially touched down just east of the Kansas state line near the end of 32nd Street and tracked just north of due east. Damage was minor in the rural areas southwest of Joplin, with only minor tree damage.
The tornado intensified greatly as it entered a more densely populated portion of the city and damage became widespread and catastrophic as it entered residential subdivisions in southwest Joplin. St. John's Regional Medical Center was heavily damaged with many windows, exterior walls and upper floors destroyed. Several fatalities were reported.
St. John's Regional Medical Center
As the tornado tracked eastward, it intensified even more as it crossed Main Street between 20th and 26th Streets. Virtually every business along that stretch was heavily damaged or destroyed, and several institutional buildings were destroyed.
The tornado now begins to Range Line Road, the main commercial strip in the eastern part of Joplin, near 20th Street. Damage in that area was rated as a low-end EF5.
The tornado peaked in intensity as it crossed Range Line Road. In that corridor between about 13th and 32nd Streets, the damage continued to be intense and the tornado was at its widest at this point, being nearly 1 mile (1.6 km) wide.
As the tornado hit the Pizza Hut at 1901 South Range Line Road, store manager Christopher Lucas herded four employees and 15 customers into a walk-in freezer. Since the door could not be shut Lucas wrapped a bungee cable holding the door shut around his arm until he was sucked into the tornado, where he died.
N Rangeline destruction
The tornado continued on an east to east-southeast trajectory towards Interstate 44 where it weakened; nonetheless, vehicles were flipped and mangled near the U.S. Route 71 (Exit 11) interchange. The weakened tornado continued to track into the rural areas of southeastern Jasper County and northeastern Newton County where damage was generally minor to moderate.
The tornado lifted east of Diamond according to aerial surveys. The tornado's total track length was at least 22.1 miles (35.6 km) long. A separate EF2 tornado touched down near Wentworth from the same supercell about 25 miles (40 km) east-southeast of Joplin.
Emergency Services Audio
An EMSA Strike Team from the Tulsa area has been dispatched to Joplin, according to Public Information Officer Chris Stevens.more
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