Weather

Tornadoes tore through Jackson County at 105 mph. A third may have hit, the NWS says.

Neighborhoods see damage from early morning storm

Trees and power lines were down across Harrison and Jackson counties following a strong storm early Thursday. Harrison County first responders cleared roadways and a possible tornado touched down in East Jackson County.
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Trees and power lines were down across Harrison and Jackson counties following a strong storm early Thursday. Harrison County first responders cleared roadways and a possible tornado touched down in East Jackson County.

The National Weather Service has confirmed two tornadoes touched down in Jackson County during severe weather Thursday, and a third tornado may have struck in Harrison County.

Tornadoes classified as EF1, the second of five wind-speed levels, struck in Ocean Springs, and in the Escatawpa and Helena communities, weather-service meteorologist Danielle Manning said Friday.

“Both had wind speeds around 105 mph,” Manning said.

The first touched down about 6:24 a.m. in Ocean Springs and was on the ground for 3.5 miles, a weather service report says. The second touched down in the county about 6:40 a.m. and was on the ground for 4.1 miles. Both tornadoes were about 100 yards wide.

The weather service was sending a survey team Friday to Saucier and areas of central Mississippi to see if a tornado caused wind damage in those areas, Manning said. The weather service on Thursday documented the Jackson County tornado.

An early-morning thunderstorm roared through Hancock and Harrison counties Thursday before reaching Jackson County. The tornadoes caused mostly minor damage, with some adjacent areas seeing straight-line wind damage, Jackson County emergency service manager Earl Etheridge said.

Tornado paths

  • Ocean Springs: Touched down on Government Street, moved northeast to just west of the police department on U.S. 90., crossed to the Walmart parking lot, went through the Parktown subdivision, crossed into another subdivision just north of Parktown, went to the Sunplex industrial area on Mississippi 57, crossed the highway and stopped at the end of Campbell street on the east side of Gautier.

  • Escatawpa/Helena: Touched down on River Lodge Drive just east of the Pascagoula River in Escatawpa, moved northeast to Black Creek, damaging Four Mile Baptist Church on Mississippi 613.

The Jackson County tornadoes damaged 51 houses, mostly roofs, and seven commercial buildings, an an undetermined number of cars. One house in Helena had significant damage when the garage roof collapsed and took off more of the home’s roof. Minor flooding and power outages also occurred.

No injuries were reported in Jackson or Harrison counties.

These are Jackson County’s fourth and fifth tornadoes since April, when three tornadoes touched down.

As the storm system moved upstate, Alcorn State student Jayla A. Gray, 19, of Jackson, died near Port Gibson when the car she was a passenger in hit a fallen tree, the Associated Press reported.

The weather service also said two EF2 tornadoes struck in Washington Parish, Louisiana, on Thursday.

Robin Fitzgerald, 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews
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