Saturday's tornado ranks as state's 9th deadliest since 1900 - - Jackson, MS

Saturday's tornado ranks as state's 9th deadliest since 1900

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By Ashley Conroy - email

PEARL, MS (WLBT) - The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the National Weather Service (NWS) in Jackson held a press conference on Wednesday to reveal the strength of last Saturday's storm.

Alan Gerard, the Meteorologist in Charge for the Jackson NWS, said this tornado will go down as the state's ninth deadliest in over a hundred years.

"It was clearly intensifying rapidly, and by the time it was on the ground in Louisiana, we had a pretty good idea that it was going to be a long-track major tornado," said Gerard.

That long-track tornado first touched down in Tallulah, LA, and then made it's way to Yazoo City, and continued through Choctaw county.

The NWS determined it was the state's fourth longest tracking tornado in history at 149.25 miles.

Additionally, it was the widest ever in Mississippi at 1.75 miles wide.

Gerard said since they knew this storm was going to be destructive, they used what they called "tornado emergency language" behind the scenes.

"We try to use (the term) in only those rare situations we know there is a strong or violent tornado on the ground," said Gerard.

Since this violent tornado killed 10 people, shredded houses, and left destruction across the state, MEMA officials have compared the devastation to Hurricane Katrina.

"So in Mississippi it seems a lot of volunteer agencies, a lot church groups, a lot of, you know any community, they're ready.  They know what to do now.  They've been through it.  They've had that training," said MEMA Deputy Administrator Lee Stokes.

Meanwhile, MEMA said Attala, Holmes, and Warren Counties will be added to the list of areas that will receive federal aid, in addition to Yazoo and Choctaw Counties.

However, when this federal aid will be distributed and how much has not been determined.

Stokes said once this aid is approved, those displaced from their home will be able to apply for housing or assistance as soon as possible through phone or e-mail.

She said for those who are in disaster areas and don't have access to these resources, MEMA will be providing mobile units with Internet and telephone service.

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