Update: 18 wheeler struck by lightning; accidents reported from storm

A thunderstorm rolls across South Mississippi. There’s a threat of severe weather across the area.
A thunderstorm rolls across South Mississippi. There’s a threat of severe weather across the area. File

South Mississippi is being hit by high winds, thunder and lightning as a severe storm blows through Monday, causing power outages as well as ponding and possible flash flooding.

An 18-wheeler was struck by lighting westbound on the Interstate 10 long bridge, said Earl Ethridge, Emergency Management director for Jackson County. He said Moss Point emergency personnel responded. Accidents were reported on I-10, just east of exit 50, where there were no injuries from an overturned vehicle, and on U.S. 90 in Gautier.

Power outages are increasing as the storms move through Jackson County. Mississippi Power’s outage map shows about 950 customers without power at 8:55 a.m., most of them in the Moss Point area.

Coast Electric reports 2,400 outages at 8:50 a.m. Most of them are in Diamondhead, with a few scattered around the service area.

Singing River Electric reports about 500 customers without poser.

There is ponding on U.S. 90 in low-lying areas, in particular around Veterans Avenue.

“We were fortunate. The storm didn’t have time to build before moving in,” said Harrison emergency manager Rupert Lacy, who reported no major damage from the storms.

Radar at shows the system should be out of Mississippi by about 11 a.m.

Most South Mississippi school districts delayed the opening of school Monday and motorists were having poor visibility as a severe weather front with heavy rain and winds cross the region and head toward Alabama.

The National Weather Service had issued a severe weather thunderstorm advisory and tornado watch until 9 a.m. for Harrison, Hancock, Jackson, Stone, George, Green Wayne and Perry counties, as well as parishes in southeast Louisiana.

Up to three inches of rain have been reported in Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Stone, George and Green Counties as of 8 a.m., the Mississippi Department of Transportation reported.

A severe thunderstorm warning was in effect in Harrison County until 7:45 a.m., said Rupert Lacy, Harrison County Emergency Management director. The county is under a flash flood warning until 9:45 a.m.

Rainfall of two to five inches is likely across the Mississippi Coast, Lacy said. Emergency management officials are reporting street flooding but waters should start to recede later Monday, he said.

The severe risk of southeast Louisiana has ended, he said, and the threat on the Mississippi Coast should end by mid-morning, he said.

Poor visibility on roadways, damaging winds and flash flooding are the main threats, Lacy said.

Wind gusts up to 60 mph could down trees and power lines, and possibly cause structural damage, he said. Some wind gusts could exceed 70 mph.

Rainfall of 2 to 5 inches will be possible along the Mississippi Gulf Coast this morning. Locally heavy rainfall could lead to ponding of water in low lying areas and areas of poor drainage.

Officials in Jackson County were waiting for the storm to move eastward after it passes through Harrison County. Skies were black in St. Martin about 7:10 a.m., said Earl Etheridge, Jackson County Emergency Services director.

Penny-sized hail has been forecast.

No damages have been reported yet in Hancock County, though there is some street flooding, said Brian “Hootie” Adam, Hancock County Emergency Management director.

It appears that most school districts in Harrison, Jackson, George and Stone counties have delayed openings. The Pascagoula-Gautier School District and Moss Point School District opened as usual, Etheridge said.

Here are the districts that have announced delays:

▪  Harrison County delaying school 2 1/2 hours

▪ Bay-Waveland School District will begin at 9 a.m. Monday.

▪  Gulfport School District by 2 hours.

▪  Biloxi School District delayed by 2 hours.

▪  Ocean Springs School District by 2 hours.

▪  St. Stanislaus High School by 2 hours.

▪  Catholic schools in Harrison County by 2 hours.

▪  Long Beach schools open 10 a.m.

▪  All campuses of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community college open 10 a.m.

▪  Jackson County School District, 3-hour delay.

Additional information will be available on the districts’ Facebook pages or websites. Some school districts have alerted parents with automated phone calls.

The delays come after the National Weather Service in New Orleans issued a severe thunderstorm warning until 5:15 a.m. for northern Hancock County and Pearl River County in South Mississippi, as well as parishes in Louisiana. The warning was extended.

The National Weather Service reports that torrential rainfall is also occurring with these storms, and may lead to localized flooding. Frequent cloud to ground lightning is occurring with these storms.