ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — The National Weather Service has confirmed that at least four tornadoes were part of the storm system that raked northern and central Mississippi on Wednesday night and yesterday morning.
The biggest of the four storms was a twister that traveled 16 miles from Scott into Newton counties east of Jackson. With a half-mile-wide damage path, it was rated EF-3 on the Fujita scale, with peak winds estimated at 140 mph. That storm blew down trees and three electrical transmission towers. One person was injured when a tree fell through a roof.
Authorities said at least seven people were injured when a line of storms pushed across the state, though none of the injuries was life-threatening.
Severe roof damage to the Greenville-Weston High School campuses closed Greenville schools at least until Monday.
Power outages remained widespread in the Delta city last night.
One person was injured when a tree fell through a roof, trapping her in her bed. Scott County emergency management director Alvin Seaney said workers had to cut the tree to get her out.
The tornado that injured three people in Sharkey County Tuesday night was rated an EF-2, running seven miles with a quarter-mile wide debris path, before lifting off west of Louise in Humphreys County. It had top estimated winds of 125 mph. The same thunderstorm quickly created two less severe tornado paths running from Louise toward Yazoo City.
Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Greg Flynn said there were two injuries in Tallahatchie County and one in Coahoma County.
The Weather Service’s Memphis office ruled out tornadoes near Myrtle in Union County, near Coldwater in Tate County and in Coahoma County. Surveyors estimated straight-line winds of between 70 and 80 mph at Myrtle and in Union County. Winds at Coldwater were estimated around 60 mph. All three locations had trees blown down.
The Weather Service’s Jackson office also inspected damage from winds in Bolivar and Grenada counties, but didn’t make a definitive determination of whether it was a tornado. Inch-wide hail fell at Duncan in Bolivar County and more than 3 inches of rain was estimated by radar in Newton County.
At one point Wednesday night, Entergy Mississippi reported more than 11,000 customers without power. Late Thursday, more than 4,000 Entergy customers remained without power, almost all in Greenville.
Winds damaged the roof and structure of Greenville-Weston’s 9th grade campus and district officials are trying to determine if a temporary roof can be put on the building, school spokesman Everett Chinn told The Clarion-Ledger. Otherwise, Chinn said, those classes may need to be held in portables on other campuses in the district. About 452 students attend the ninth-grade school.
Officials will decide this weekend whether more time is needed for cleanup, Chinn said..
In Sharkey County, Coleman Jenkins, 20, spent yesterday morning looking for his mother’s phone and car keys around her destroyed mobile home. He said his mother broke her back and wrist and had cuts on her face, but she’s expected to survive. Jenkins wasn’t home at the time, but he said his two sisters, ages 5 and 10, managed to make it out of the trailer without serious injuries.
“Everything’s gone,” Jenkins said. “I’ve never seen anything like it, but it’s going to be all right.”
Sharkey County emergency management director James Ross said a total of eight mobile homes in the county were destroyed or heavily damaged. He said officials are trying to help those families find a place to stay.