Joplin tornado had more than 1 vortex

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 | 5:11 p.m. CDT; updated 5:48 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 24, 2011

OKLAHOMA CITY — According to The National Weather Service, the tornado that killed at least 118 people in Joplin appeared to have had more than one vortex.

Storm Prediction Center Director Russell Schneider said video evidence shows Sunday's tornado appeared to be a rare "multivortex" twister.

Multivortex tornadoes contain two or more small and intense subvortices that orbit the center of the larger tornado circulation.

Schneider said multivortex tornadoes are relatively uncommon but have been seen in massive storms such as the one that ripped through Joplin.

The tornado was given a preliminary EF4 rating — the second-highest rating given to twisters. The rating is assigned to storms based on damage they cause.

Sunday's tornado was the deadliest single U.S. twister in about six decades.