TORNADO OUTBREAK RAKES MISSISSIPPI & LOUISIANA
April 6, 2005 – A line of powerful thunderstorms moved through southcentral Mississippi and southeast Louisiana Wednesday morning, spawning at least two dozen tornadoes.
The first touchdown occurred near Brandon, Miss., in Rankin County at 7:15 a.m. CDT causing extensive damage and injuries. A Tornado Warning for that area had been issued by the NOAA National Weather Service Forecast Office in Jackson, Miss., at 6:40 a.m., with a preliminary warning lead time of 35 minutes. At least six people were injured, one critically, when the tornado destroyed a mobile home park. No deaths were reported.
Lt. David Ruth of the Brandon Police Department photographed the Rankin County tornado and noted the cell was trying to spawn more twisters. “I saw at least three rotations dropping out of the cloud, the one that touched down – and two others that started down and then went back up.”
Following a partial survey of the Rankin County Damage, Alan Gerard meteorologist-in-charge of the Jackson office said, “We’ve already seen model homes destroyed along the track as well as two well-constructed brick houses that were a total loss. We have a lot more to look at, but this was an F3 tornado.”
While Rankin County appeared to be hardest hit, tornadoes were also reported in eight other southcentral Mississippi counties. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour declared a state of emergency for much of the region after receiving widespread reports of mobile home damage, roof damage, downed trees and power lines. Numerous roads were also closed due to downed trees. Southern Pine Electric Power Company and Entergy Mississippi reported in excess of 5,000 customers lost power.
Another tornado damaged walls and blew the roof off Mize High School in Smith County. But an early warning from the National Weather Service, with a preliminary warning lead time of 55 minutes, and quick action – none of the 650 students and faculty in the school sustained injuries.
Bryan Henry, journeyman forecaster at the Jackson Forecast Office said the Tornado Warning for Smith County was issued at 8:32 a.m., and he received a phone call from one of the students about 20 minutes later. “I told him the tornado was heading toward the school from the southwest and they needed to take shelter immediately and follow their emergency procedures for tornadoes.” By the time the tornado struck the school, administrators had moved all of the students to building’s first floor hallways.
Another high school under construction in Brandon was also damaged, as were the construction trailers and a dozen cars. There were no reports of injuries to the 125 workers at the school.
The National Weather Service average warning lead time for 14 tornadoes reported in central and southern Mississippi – was 31 minutes. Thirteen tornadoes were also reported in Louisiana with an average lead time of 14 minutes.
“Once again, local office expertise coupled with National Weather Service modernization technology, has saved lives during this latest tornado outbreak,” said Bill Proenza, director, NOAA National Weather Service Southern Region.
Ron Trumbla, NOAA National Weather Service: (817)978-1111 x140
Related Web sites:
NOAA’s National Weather Service: http://www.nws.noaa.gov
National Weather Service in Jackson, Miss.: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/jan
NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center: http://www.spc.noaa.gov