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Survey Teams Still Assessing Mississippi Tornado Damage

By Paul Boger | Published 01 May 2014 08:30am | comments

Survey teams with the National Weather Service are still assessing the damage caused by Monday's deadly tornados. MPB's Paul Boger reports they hope the data will help researchers better predict when and where tornadoes could strike.

Two members of the National Weather Service in Jackson are surveying storm damage trying to determine how fast winds were moving during Monday's tornadoes. Meteorologist Alan Gerard is part of the team evaluating Rankin and Scott Counties.
 
"When it initially started, it was very quickly producing significant damage lie EF 3 type damage." said Gerard. "As it continued it kind of weakened for a bit producing EF1 type damage, but then as it was moving into the trailer park on the east side of Pearl it re-intensified again with EF 2 [or] EF 3 type damage."
 
An E-F 1 to E-F 3 tornado consists of wind speeds between 73 and 205 miles per hour. Gerard says different kinds of damage reveal how strong a storm was.
 
"Typically to take down a regular power pole with power lines you're looking at somewhere on the threshold EF 1 and EF 2 winds." said Gerard. "For a house, to take the roof off would typicaly be like EF 2 type winds. To actually cause destruction at the level of like losing walls and that kind of thing it would typicaly EF 3 and EF 4 type winds."
 
Gerard confirms winds up to 112 miles per hour toppled a tree that split Billie Allen's Brandon home in two. She was in the house when it happened.
 
"I was where the tree came down, right there in the middle." said Allen. "I'm told that the refrigerator in the kitchen and the stove, which is no longer in the kitchen, kept that tree from coming down because I was underneath all of that."
 
Further down the tornado's path, another home outside of Forest lays in ruin. It was struck while the storm was surging up to 175 miles per hour. Terry McMillian says the destruction left his sister-in-law critically injured.
 
"She was headed to this bathroom and my brother called her to come get in this closet, and she didn't make it." said McMillian. "These walls have been flipped off. They were leaning up against here They were actually caught under these walls and had to crawl into the closet and out that other side over there."
 
The confirmed death toll in Mississippi from the storm is 12. Nine of those occurred in Winston County where experts say winds could have reached speeds over 207 miles per hour.
 

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