Three tornadoes confirmed in Panola County

Published 9:44 am Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Flooding, high winds wreak havoc; more than 5 inches of rain recorded

Flash flooding was reported across Panola County on the evening of Friday, March 24, and a considerable amount of structural damage was caused by three EF-1 tornadoes that touched down, but locals breathed a collective sigh of relief here Saturday morning as the realization that other areas of Mississippi had endured horrific weather, topped by an EF-4 twister that killed more than 20 people.

Locally, several businesses and neighborhoods experienced flooding, and in some areas motorists were trapped in their cars for a short time until the storm drainage system could provide some relief.

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Pride Hyundai, McDonalds, and other businesses on the south side of Hwy. 6 experienced flooding. McDowell Rd., a short road off Hentz Rd. and next to the Dollar General in Pope had to be closed because of a large sinkhole, and Brewer Rd., will be closed for an extended period with a washed out culvert.

The rushing waters that crossed Brewer Rd., deposited 400 pounds pieces of concrete several hundred yards from the roadway, said Batesville Public Works Director David Karr, who called the five plus inches of rain in less than an hour a Biblical event.

Emergency Management Operations director Daniel Cole said survey teams were in Panola County early Saturday morning and the National Weather Service, by Monday, had established and mapped the three EF-1 tornadoes that swept through the county.

Besides the hundreds of downed and damaged trees, early reports from the state’s Emergency Management Association indicate that 33 residential homes suffered significant damages.

Those tornadoes have been named, for official purposes, the NWS, the Pope Tornado, the Southeast Tornado, and the Burgess Tornado.

The Pope Tornado touched down just south of Pope-Crowder Rd. and traveled through Pope hitting houses (including Cole’s) and damaging the Chuck Stop store, before crossing over Hwy. 51 and lifting before it reached I-55.

The Pope Tornado was judged to be eight miles in distance.

The Southeast Tornado traveled 6.5 miles and touched Pittman, Crouch, Haire, Henderson, and other roads in that area.

The Burgess Tornado traveled 4.5 miles on the ground, with most of that being in Lafayette County. Joiner Rd., May Rd., and others saw damage from that storm.

Cole said he had reports of one 18 wheeler blown off the interstate but the truck was carrying no hazardous materials.

Crews from all departments in the city and county worked throughout the night clearing trees from roadways and helping people trapped by fallen limbs to clear pathways to their houses.

Cole said flooding on Dummy Line Rd. in west Panola County closed the roadway for a short time and residents of a house had to be rescued by an off-duty game warden who waded through chest deep water to reach the people.

In a statewide release Tuesday, Gov. Tate Reeves said the National Weather Service has confirmed that seven tornadoes touched down in Mississippi. This includes one EF-4 tornado (Rolling Fork/Silver City tornado), two EF-3 tornadoes (Carroll/Montgomery County tornado and Monroe County tornado), and four EF-1 tornadoes.

The total fatality number has been revised to 21 storm-related fatalities. There were 3 fatalities in Carroll County, 2 fatalities in Monroe County, 3 fatalities in Humphreys County, and 13 fatalities in Sharkey County.

Photo – A large culvert was washed away on Brewer Rd., closing that roadway for an extended period. Roads all over the county were closed temporarily because of the Friday, March 24, flooding.