An Indiana couple discovered a receipt that may have blown 525 miles from Joplin, Mo., to their porch — the longest recorded journey of debris from a tornado.
Tia Fritz contacted Ernest Agee, a Purdue University professor of earth and atmospheric sciences and tornado expert, when she and her husband discovered a receipt dated May 13 from Joplin Tire on the porch of their Royal Center, Indiana, home on Wednesday (May 25). Royal Center is in north central Indiana about 45 miles from Lafayette.
"This paper traveled more than twice as far as the longest distance recorded for debris from a storm," said Agee, who now has the receipt. "The previous record was a cancelled check that traveled 210 miles after the 1915 tornado in Great Bend, Kansas.
The distance paper travels is directly proportional to the intensity of the tornado. This paper's journey is a testament to the strength of the EF5 tornado that struck Joplin and what that city went through."
In order to reach Indiana, the receipt, which was folded into one-quarter of its original size, would have to have been sucked into the tornado and then carried by the jet stream for 12.5 hours, according to Agee's estimates using wind speeds and the distance traveled. It is not known exactly how long the receipt was on the porch before it was discovered.
The devastating tornado destroyed nearly one-third of Joplin and killed more than 132 people in the city of more than 50,000. The tornado is considered the deadliest to hit the United States in 65 years.