SPRINGFIELD, Mo.–If you live in the Ozarks, then more than likely,  you are familiar with the Ozarks Mountains,  or rather— the Ozarks Plateau.

It’s an elevated piece of land, that some say, protects the Ozarks from tornadoes.

The plateau covers approximately 50,000 square miles, which includes– parts of Southern Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas.

According to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center, from 1982 to 2011, the probability of severe weather over the past 30 years, seemingly goes around Missouri.

But, does it?

Doug Cramer with the National Weather Service tells us, the plateau is responsible for higher than usual, funneling winds in parts of the Ozarks.

“Sometimes at night,  if we have a southeast wind across the airport, we’ll have a higher wind speed in this area, than any other area across Southwest Missouri,” said Cramer.

Flash flooding and the contribution of the intensity to the infamous ice storm of 2007 are due to the Ozarks Plateau.

“The arctic air that was coming down from Canada was actually dammed up along the Plateau,” said Cramer.
It allowed for very cold temperatures across Springfield.

But, if you went a bit further south, like Branson, he says, they didn’t see as cold of temperatures.
And in turn, didn’t get as much ice.

“Some of those areas didn’t see any ice. But in Springfield,  we saw a catastrophic ice storm.”

Cramer says, it’s all because of the elevated topography.

And while the mountains potentially could act as a shield,  people for years have said the Ozark Mountains protect them against tornadoes.

But Cramer disagrees.

And,  he’s got the data to prove it.

Cramer said, “As you can see right behind me here we have tornado tracks that date back to 1950. And,  you can see these tracks are very random in nature. And we just don’t see much of a signal from topography based on the historical data we’ve collected from tornadoes.”

Joplin, for example, sits on the very, very, very southwest corner of the Ozarks Plateau.

And on May 22, 2011, the Ozarks Plateau did nothing to protect it.

“The topography had no impacts on the development of the Joplin tornado,” said Cramer.

A massive EF-5 tornado practically destroyed Joplin,  leaving dozens killed, hundreds injured,  and a city that would never be the same.

“I never thought I was protected by Ozarks Plateau. I thought more I was protected because I lived in such a big city.”

Cramer says it doesn’t matter where you live.

He says, “Tornadoes hit big cities. Tornadoes hit rural areas. Tornadoes hit small towns, as well.”

Angela nape, her two dogs, and her now-husband survived that tornado.

Their house— did not.

Nape said, “It was completely demolished. There was nothing left. I think our roof was in our front yard. It was pretty incredible. I felt like it had to be a dream. It couldn’t be real. This could not be real. My nightmares couldn’t come up with something like this.”

And even to this day, she’s recovering emotionally.

“I’m terrified of storms now. Even the slight potential risk for a tornado gives me full blown anxiety, full blown panic attacks,” said Nape.

Cramer says, there’s no protection from storms of this magnitude.

The one thing the National Weather Service has seen, especially in the elevated areas,  more damage is seen in the mountainous, hilly terrain. That’s compared to the valley floors.