Violent tornadoes swept through swaths of Mississippi overnight, killing at least 23 people and injuring dozens more, while decimating buildings and infrastructure.
Rescue and recovery efforts are still underway and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency has said that four people remain missing and the fatality and injury counts are expected to rise.
The rural towns of Rolling Fork in Sharkey County and Silver City in Humphrey County were hit particularly hard. Officials confirmed that 13 of the recorded deaths so far were in Sharkey County and the sheriff’s office reported responding to gas leaks and people trapped in rubble, according to Vicksburg News, a local outlet.
Storm chasers documented footage of chilling tornado funnels headed to Rolling Fork and urged emergency responders to rush over with help. Tornadoes with winds reaching 70 miles per hour hurdled through the region towards Alabama.
As of Saturday morning, nearly 15,000 Mississippi households and thousands more in Alabama and Tennessee were still without power, according to PowerOutage.us.
The storms were caused by a combination of factors when warm humid air moving north clashed with a higher altitude cold front, causing thunderstorms and tornadoes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had predicted a moderate severe weather risk across the southeast, but tornadoes that strike at night are typically deadlier as those in the danger zone sleep through storm updates.
“You are in a life-threatening situation,” The National Weather Service (NWS) wrote in an alert Friday night. “Flying debris may be deadly to those caught without shelter. Mobile homes will be destroyed. Considerable damage to homes, businesses, and vehicles is likely and complete destruction is possible.”
NWS has tornado warnings under effect in parts of Alabama and Georgia through Saturday morning.
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