HOUSTON -- Storms that hammered the Deep South last Wednesday, March 17, mostly spared Chickasaw County, although the Okolona area did report some damage from two weak tornados, Emergency Management Agency Director Linda Griffin said Friday evening.
No injuries or fatalities were reported, she said.
Areas south of Chickasaw and western Alabama received the pounding Wednesday afternoon and later that evening that weather forecasts indicated could have hit Chickasaw, she said.
Although an area tornado warning expired about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, a tornado watch remained in effect until midnight Wednesday.
“A rotating cloud went over us about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and did touch down on CR 142 on the Phillip Jolly farm in the northeast section of the county.
“I’ve had reports of a few trees damaged, and roofs damaged on a few residences and barns, all on the east side of Houston, but that’s about it. No residential damage was reported in Houston,” Griffin said.
“No roads were blocked, as far as I know. There were a few power outages, but they were resolved quickly,” she said.
In Okolona, however, it was a different story, with two tornadoes reported Wednesday, and several reports of wind damage. Those reports included the tornado -- believed to be the F-0 rotating cloud -- which struck the Jolly farm, Griffin said.
Citing National Weather Service reports, she said one tornado with a length of about a half-mile and 75 mph winds developed west of CR 410 southwest of Okolona, damaging a barn and uprooted trees.
After crossing CR 410, the tornado uprooted more trees and broke large limbs before dissipating in a field east of CR 410 and south of CR 150.
The other tornado with a length of 1.4 miles developed near the intersection of Highway 41 and CR 413, where it downed trees. The tornado’s path was intermittent, and no damage was reported on the north side of Highway 41.
The tornado reached a peak intensity of 80 mph approaching CR142, with several trees uprooted, and an outbuilding destroyed. The tornado uprooted additional trees on the north side of CR 142 and damaged the Jolly farm.
The EMA Director thanked area school administrators, who -- based on predictions of possible rough weather -- called off area schools Wednesday.
Several area industries also turned out early that day.
“It was predicted to be a terrible day, and I appreciate school and industries being on the safe side and turning out,” she said.
Area south of Chickasaw and into Alabama “got what we thought we’d get,” she said.
She said: “I am waiting on a written report from our reps at the National Weather Service out of Memphis to send me a report on damage they surveyed in the Okolona area.
“I requested they look at damage on CR 410 and CR 142 of a late event that we had around 19:30 (7:30 p.m.) Wednesday after we thought the worst had passed. Gary Woodall with the NWS called me to say the damage did look as if a short lived tornado passed over and caused the damage on CR 142 at Phillip Jolly’s farm.”
Natchez Trace EPA staking technician Cale Pearce said Thursday afternoon the storm produced about 625 reported power outages in the area served by the electrical cooperative. He said power was restored to the last of the outages about 3:45 a.m. Thursday.
Pearce said about 250 customers suffered outages in the Enon Community east of Houston, while the remaining reported outages extended from north of Mantee to Dancy, which is south of Mantee.
Griffin reminded area residents to continue to be watchful of the weather: “Next April starts the season for tornadoes.”