What if an EF-5 Tornado, Like the One in Joplin, Hit Columbia?

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COLUMBIA - Severe weather season is right around the corner and with the record breaking year of severe weather in 2011 fresh in our minds, we now look at this years.

What if a tornado dropped on the southwestern edge of Columbia and moved through heart of the city, just like they saw in Joplin? What all would it destroy?

No, No one's ready for that. And I don't think you can be, I don't think it's humanly possible to be ready for the absolute worst thing that can happen.

The worst thing that could happen to Joplin, did. Something far worse could happen here.

"I don't run outside when the sirens are going off," said Renee Hulshof. "I go for the media, I go for my computer... And I go on the television, radio. Okay what's happening? And then I determine what I'm going to do."

Severe weather coverage. So you flip on the television and see that there is a tornado warning for Boone County and it will directly affect you. So you head to the safest place.

"We head down here when the thunderstorms get bad or the weather gets dicey," said Hulshof.

Its difficult to imagine what an EF-5 tornado, like Joplin, could do to Columbia. So to put this in perspective, I have a scaled overlay of the Joplin tornado. When you place this over a map of the city of Columbia, cutting through the heart of Columbia like the heart of Joplin, it brings it home in a whole new light.

Imagine this...A tornado touched down on the southwestern edge of the city. As in grows in intensity it begins to destroy homes and business near the village of Cherry Hill. As it moves off to the northeast it hits the shoppes at University. Boone Hospital takes a direct hit as the EF-5 tornado continues on to the Broadway shopping center before it crosses Highway 63 and weakens.

You're talking about hitting places where there is a lot of people on a daily basis...
162,000 people line in Boone County with the majority concentrated within the city limits of Columbia.

What if this happened during school time? What if it was in the evening? Or what if it was during the day and the University is... what if the hospitals are already at capacity when this hits? You know, is one hospital taken out, both, three hospitals? We have so many resources here that If this were to come through, we're talking about a very devastating and overwhelming disaster.
I can't imagine this scenario... I don't really want to imagine this scenario.

But after the active severe weather season of 2011, we can't help but thing of "what if". Several large, destructive tornadoes hit a little to close to home last year, in both St. Louis and Joplin.

I don't know of any city, county, or any type area that is prepared for that type of tornado on that magnitude, that scale.... What you do is prepare for what the higher percentage of disasters that is more likely to be seen in an area.