The National Institute of Standards and Technology, a research agency of the Federal government, released a 432-page report last week on the Joplin, Missouri tornado of May 2011, which killed 161 people and carved a 6-mile path of destruction through city neighborhoods. The Las Vegas Sun carries this Associated Press report: ("Federal agency releases Joplin tornado study"). The NIST paper "suggests that stronger building codes, more storm shelters and improved emergency communication systems could have significantly reduced the death toll and the costs of rebuilding from country's deadliest single modern tornado," according to the story. ""The overarching conclusion of our two-year study is that death and destruction from tornadoes can be reduced," Eric Letvin, NIST's director of disaster and failure studies, said at a Joplin press conference.

NIST provides a summary of the report (released in draft form for public comment) here: ("NIST Investigation of Joplin, Mo., Tornado Details Proposed Measures for Saving Lives and Property"). "The key recommendation proposed in the report is 'the development and adoption of nationally accepted performance-based standards for the tornado-resistant design of buildings and infrastructure to ensure the resiliency of communities to tornado hazards.' This includes a call for designing and constructing essential buildings—such as hospitals and emergency operations centers—and infrastructure to remain operational in the event of a tornado," NIST said. Mercy Hospital, one of the city's two main hospitals, was completely knocked out by the storm.

The full report can be downloaded in PDF form here: ("Draft Final Report, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Technical Investigation of the May 22, 2011, Tornado in Joplin, Missouri").