A tornado and strong thunderstorms swept across Mississippi, United States, leaving a trail of destruction for over 100 miles. The tornado was reported at about 8.50 pm (local time) in Silver City and Rolling Fork, and it travelled 59 miles with a width of three-quarters of a mile and lasted about an hour and 10 minutes. At least 23 people were killed, dozens injured, and four are missing due to the tornadoes.
The storm caused damage to homes and buildings, and vehicles were tossed around and destroyed. The National Weather Service has estimated the tornado as a four on the Enhanced Fujita scale.
The devastation occurred at night, making it harder for people to see the tornado coming. Help has begun pouring into one of the poorest regions of the US.
On Friday, March 24, 2023, a series of severe thunderstorms swept through Mississippi, resulting in the formation of tornadoes that wreaked havoc in several counties.
At least 23 people lost their lives, dozens were injured, and several buildings were destroyed. The tornadoes were reported to have covered over 100 miles in their path of destruction, leaving a trail of devastation in their wake.
As the thunderstorms pounded Mississippi late Friday evening, a tornado was spotted around 8:50 pm in Silver City and Rolling Fork.
The National Weather Service (NWS) issued an alert warning of the confirmed tornado on the ground, moving across I-55 and headed into the city of Winona in Montgomery County. The alert instructed people to take cover immediately.
According to an NWS official, a tornado emergency alert was later issued for Winona as a tornado moved northeast through town.
Witnesses reported the tornadoes were enormous, with some referring to them as “wedge tornadoes.” The NWS estimated the storm lasted for over an hour, covering a distance of 59 miles with a width of three-quarters of a mile.
The tornadoes were said to have developed from a supercell storm, which is a rotating storm characterized by a separated updraft and downdraft.
The storms are caused by warm, unstable air near the ground and changing speed and direction of the wind at increasing heights.
Supercell storms are rare, but they are among the most destructive, and they can sustain themselves for longer than normal.
According to Lance Perrilloux, a meteorologist with the NWS in Jackson, Mississippi, the conditions were perfect for the tornadoes to last a long time, which is not typical.
He attributed the tornadoes’ prolonged duration to the ideal conditions that caused them to wreak havoc over long distances. The NWS estimates that the tornadoes were sustained by warm, unstable air that was prevalent in the area.
The timing of the storms also contributed to their severity. The tornadoes hit Rolling Fork at around 8:00 pm local time, and the NWS issued the tornado warning only 20 minutes prior.
Studies have shown that nighttime tornadoes are twice as deadly as those that occur during the day, primarily because they are hard to see coming.
The tornadoes caused significant damage to several counties in Mississippi, leaving a trail of destruction that stretched over 100 miles.
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves confirmed that 23 people died in the tornado and storms that struck the state. Several others were injured, and many more are missing.
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) reported that they had activated medical support, with several ambulances and emergency assets being deployed to assist those affected.
Several state and local search and rescue teams continue to work in the affected areas to locate the missing and provide support to the injured.
The tornadoes caused massive property damage, with several homes and buildings being flattened or destroyed. Vehicles were also tossed around and destroyed, adding to the destruction.
The damage caused by the tornadoes is expected to run into millions of dollars, further compounding the loss experienced by the affected families and communities.
Several eyewitnesses have shared their accounts of the tornadoes, describing them as among the most violent and destructive storms they have ever seen.
Stephanie Cox, a storm chaser based in Oklahoma, witnessed the tornadoes as they rolled into Mississippi.
She described the initial stages of the storm as “intense,” with the tornadoes churning up debris and dirt, making it impossible to see.
Another witness, Mary Jones, described the tornado that hit her community as a “monster,” saying it destroyed everything in its path, including homes, vehicles, and power lines.
The tornadoes’ impact was felt by many, with several communities left without power or access to essential services such as water and food.
The damage caused by the tornadoes is expected to take a long time to repair, and the affected families and communities will require significant support to rebuild.
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