Southern Mississippi was ravaged by tornado-producing storms on Easter Sunday just before 5 p.m. local time, with two huge twisters touching down just miles apart.
Photos and radar video shared on Twitter reveal one of the tornados touched down in Soso, Mississippi. The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center [NWS SPC] described these two supercells as “an exceptionally rare event.”
The active tornado warning wasn’t lifted until 6:15 p.m. local time. According to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, there have been seven reported deaths from the storms. One victim was located in Walthall County while two deaths came in from Lawrence Country – the first two counties the tornados hit on April 12. Jefferson County has reported three deaths and Jones County one.
The dual tornado traveled over 100 miles from Taylorsville to Soso, with wedges reported to be as large as a mile wide.
Meteorologist Brad Maushart tweeted, “Looks to be a direct hit to Soso in Jones Co., just north of Laurel. Another tornado-warned storm just southwest of this one, taking a similar path.”
Senior Accuweather meteorologist Frank Strait couldn’t believe there were two massive tornados so close together. He tweeted, “SMH … one violent tornado is more than enough. Folks, if you are warned a second time and you hear sirens go a second time, it’s not an error and the second one could be as bad as the first.”
According to the NWS SPC, the tornado that touched down in Soso may have reached speeds of 170 to 205 miles per hour. An EF5 tornado is a twister with winds at or above 200 miles per hour.
Storm damage was also reported in Seminary, Mississippi, located 30 miles away from Soso.
Residents of the area were under order to take shelter from the storm as the two tornadic supercells followed on nearly identical paths through Southern Mississippi. All six coastal counties remained on tornado watch until 12 a.m. local time.
Photos & Video Show Devastating Destruction Through The Pine Belt Area
The Pine Belt, which covers 10 counties in the Southern Mississippi region, was directly hit by the dual twisters. The affected areas include Jefferson Davis, Covington, Jones, Wayne, Marion, Lamar, Forest, Perry, Jasper, and Greene counties.
Local fire and police departments have reported that search and rescue teams are underway. Residents are advised to stay home, as there’s been major structural damage and major roads have been blocked off.
Thoughts and prayers were sent to those living in Southern Mississippi and battling through these devastating storms amid coronavirus.
Debris From The Dual Tornados Was Reported As Far As Alabama
While the storms must first pass before a full damage report can be confirmed, according to Washington Post meteorologist Matthew Capucci, debris from these twisters may be falling in Choctaw County, Alabama, which is 35 miles away from where the first tornado which touched down.
Meteorologist Steve Bowen tweeted, “twin supercell tracks in Mississippi virtually ‘off the chart’ in terms of low-level rotation intensity.”
The debris fallout showed up on radar as reaching as high as 30,000 feet, with a fallout zone possibly reaching north of Meridian, Mississippi.