It was birthed in the lower atmosphere on the second Sunday in February, sired when storm clouds filled with thunder collided with an unstable mass of air over the Pine Belt.
The result: Fraternal tornadic triplets of varying size and strength that touched down in Forrest, Lamar, Lawrence and Marion counties.
The largest of the brothers roared to life at 5:03 p.m., about 8½ miles west-northwest of Purvis, near the crossroads of Mississippi 589 and Old Highway 24 in Lamar County.
From there, it took its first steps east-northeast and didn't stop until it had torn and twisted a cruel, jagged path through Oak Grove, Hattiesburg and Petal.
The National Weather Service pegged the full-grown beast as an EF4 tornado, packing winds of 170 mph. Bulling a three-quarter-mile-wide swath over a 21-mile track, it splintered structures, hammered homes and battered businesses before returning to the sky at 5:36 p.m. some three miles east-southeast of the Macedonia community in Perry County.
During its 33-minute lifespan, the tornado destroyed 300 homes while damaging another 1,100. No one was killed and few injuries were reported, but lives were changed.
The Hattiesburg American took a look back at what was and what has become a year later.
Here are a few highlights:
1. Old Highway 24
Then: Tornado touches down as an EF1-2. Winds are approximately 120-140 mph, and the tornado is about ½-mile wide. The first homes are destroyed and damaged.
Now: Life has returned to normal for residents along Old Highway 24.
Houses that once were heavily damaged now sit completely repaired -- or in some cases, rebuilt.
"Old Highway 24 was the initial touchdown and there were quite a few houses that were damaged -- three or four were hit hard," Lamar County District 4 Supervisor Phillip Carlisle said. "For example, Ruby Lane is a small little community with probably 12 to 15 homes, and they were devastated."
Now, a year down the road, Carlisle said onlookers would not recognize the community that was once left in shambles.
"I can't believe the resolve of those people," he said. "As far as I know, 100 percent have built back."
2. Oak Grove High School
Then: High school and athletic facilities are damaged. Four large metal/concrete light standards are snapped. A truck is tossed onto the baseball field.
Now: Repairs to all tornado-damaged facilities will be complete in July or August when construction is finished on the high school's football field house.
Mack's Construction won the bid on the field house, and workers are ready to get started.
The baseball field -- including seating, fencing, dugout, scoreboard and indoor hitting facility -- is 80 percent complete. Work should be done by March in time for baseball season.
Repairs were completed on the high school in October and November. Those included replacing the gym roof, the gym floor, all the school's windows and its drop ceiling and insulation.
3. Main Street
Then: The scene is horrific looking north from the West Fourth Street intersection. Winds from a tornado estimated as EF3 or EF4 in strength spare little, flattening historic homes as well as dilapidated structures. Utility poles and power lines are strewn and mingled with shredded roofs and building debris. The home of Mayor Johnny DuPree sustains major damage, while across the street, Mount Carmel Baptist Church is riddled by flying debris.
Now: Much has been done, including debris collected and removed, and homes repaired, including the mayor's. But scars remain evident in the area, with many structures still bearing marks from the battering taken a year ago.
4. African American Military History Museum
Then: The roof of the historic building is partially removed, exposing artifacts and interior to rain and high winds. The interior is significantly damaged due to debris and rain.
Now: The museum held a grand reopening Thursday with a Black History Month kickoff program honoring living World War II veterans from the Pine Belt. Museum officials had recognized WWII vets in 2010 and decided to do it again for the grand reopening because the building housing the museum is a WWII-era USO Club.
The tornado caused about $450,000 in historic building damage and $600,000 in damage to the museum's components.
After the tornado, volunteers helped museum staff remove documents, flags, medals, enlistment papers and other artifacts so they wouldn't get damaged by the rain.
Once the exterior damage to the building was repaired, experts with Southern Custom Exhibits of Anniston, Ala., put the cabinetry, dioramas, murals and exhibits back into place.
The museum is holding a number of black history events throughout February, including a Medgar Evers display, a reception for Purple Heart recipients and a talk by a World War II veteran.
5. Mobile Street
Then: The tornado sweeps along Mobile Street, causing major damage to homes and several historic buildings. The street is impassable, blocked by torn structures, sheared roofs and downed utility lines.
Now: The area remains a work in progress, with much done, but also much left to do.
"There still are opportunities as well as challenges to be met in those areas," DuPree said. "There are areas where properties still need to be rehabbed. We have some citizens, probably, who would love to come back to the communities they left from.
"You have people, some with no insurance. You have some that were renters with absentee landlords, and some of them decided to take the money and not rebuild the homes.
"The dynamics are great in some of these areas, and you have to almost wade through all of them, just about one by one, parcel by parcel, and that's what we're in the process of doing."