A brief but intense batch of thunderstorms moved through South Mississippi on Tuesday afternoon, bringing tornado and flash-flood warnings.
About 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, the National Weather Service re-issued flood warnings for the Biloxi and Wolf rivers. The Biloxi River, whose flood stage was 12 feet, was at 11 feet and expected to crest at 15 feet Thursday. The Wolf, whose flood stage is 8 feet was expected to crest at 10 feet. Rupert Lacy, Harrison County Emergency Management director, said in a press release both rivers were quickly rising and he expected them to be at flood stage Wednesday night.
Harrison Central High School students were forced to take cover when a funnel cloud was spotted nearby, but no touchdown was reported.
Principal Averie Bush said he sounded the school's tornado alarm when dark clouds enveloped the high school. Buses were held back at least 30 minutes from their normal departure time when it seemed likely another storm system was coming in. "I heard we might have another one coming in," he said. "The safety of our students comes first."
Bush said he sounded the tornado alarm about 1:30 p.m. He said the roughly 1,600 students tucked their heads between their knees as practiced tornado drills.
A school official said she saw a huge funnel cloud. "It was a big one," she said. "I was answering phones when it got really, really dark. That's when I saw it."
A waterspout also was sighted offshore from Long Beach about 2:45 p.m.
By 4 p.m., more than 4 inches of rain had fallen on northwest Harrison County, the county Emergency Management Agency reported.
Gulfport, Long Beach, Saucier, Lyman and the area around the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport were expected to experience flooding.
The National Weather Service in Slidell forecasts a risk of showers and thunderstorms through Saturday, with a slight chance of severe weather. Up to 4 inches of rain could fall before Saturday.
Jeff Clark, Sun Herald staff writer, contributed to this report.