Tornadoes Hit Mississippi During Deadly Weekend Storm

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Need to Know from SafeWise
  • Storms over the weekend in Mississippi led to a severe tornado that impacted western Mississippi.
  • According to the National Weather Service, the tornado had winds up to 170 mph, traveled 59 miles, and lasted over an hour and 10 minutes.
  • The tornado devastated the towns of Rolling Fork and Silver City, Miss., killing at least 26 people and injuring dozens more.
  • The bad weather in the southwest is expected to continue, with strong winds, hail, and the potential for flash flooding.

Over the weekend, a tornado touched down in Mississippi during a severe storm. With winds up to 170 mph, the tornado caused immediate devastation and destroyed the town of Rolling Springs, Miss.

Over an hour, the tornado traveled 59 miles and impacted four counties. The tornado killed at least 25 people in Mississippi and another person in Alabama. Dozens were injured, and emergency rescue workers are still combing through the destruction to find survivors.

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President Joe Biden approved a federal disaster declaration for Mississippi, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) crews have been deployed to the region.

The bad weather in the southwest is expected to continue, with strong winds, hail, and the potential for flash flooding.

Why was this tornado different?

Mississippi is in Tornado-Alley, a section in the middle of the U.S. that gets more tornado activity than anywhere else. However, the tornado that touched down in Rolling Fork on Friday was exceptionally rare for its distance: nearly 60 miles across the state. Over 80% of tornadoes travel under 5 miles, and only 0.5% go above 50 miles.

The width of the tornado—3/4-mile wide—added to the destruction. (Most tornadoes this year had a maximum width of under 150 yards.) It is the only tornado ranked EF-4 this year for winds up to 170 mph; most tornadoes in Mississippi were under EF-1.

Friday’s tornado was the twentieth of 2023—and the first of six tornadoes on Friday.

What to do during a tornado warning

If you receive a tornado warning, a tornado has been spotted in your area.

More than anything else, our experts have found that creating an emergency plan is the first step. That way, you’ll be able to weather the storm well. Of course, there are variables—like a tornado traveling 59 miles instead of the usual 3 miles—but being prepared helps keep you and your family safe.

At the same time, preparing kids for tornadoes is just as important. They may be familiar with tornado drills at school, but at home, they need to know where to go to seek shelter. Having these conversations early can make it a lot easier when storms strike.

And while there are many ways to prepare for a tornado warning, the most important thing is to devise a plan to take shelter and ensure that you are covering your head with your hands.

Finally, as part of the preparation for taking shelter, having an emergency kit ready can do a lot of good. That way, you’ll have water, food, a light, first aid, and a weather radio, so you know when the storm has passed.

Alex Kerai
Written by
Alex began writing for student newspapers and has managed to turn that into a career. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he wrote about small businesses for Biz2Credit and Before that, he spent time in communications for higher education institutions, created marketing materials for nonprofits, and worked for entertainment companies in Los Angeles. Today, he reports on emerging consumer trends and his work can be seen on The Penny Hoarder, SafeWise,,,,,,, and When he's not writing, Alex watches too much TV, plays guitar, reads and writes fiction, and goes on nature walks.

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