TUPELO • The thunderstorms that rolled through northeast Mississippi Thursday morning downed trees and power lines, closing one of Tupelo’s major thoroughfares during the busy morning commute.
Tupelo city officials say straight-line winds knocked down a series of power poles along Cliff Gookin Boulevard near Tupelo High School. A section of the road between the Natchez Trace Parkway and Graham Drive was closed to traffic for several hours. Tupelo Water & Light crews cleared the road and repaired the lines by noon.
Tupelo Water & Light director Johnny Timmons said eight power poles in that section of road suffered damage.
“When the first pole snapped, the weight went onto the next one and it was like dominoes,” Timmons said. “Those are 65-foot poles, with 46,000 volt transmission lines on the top and distribution lines on the bottom.”
Seven of the downed poles were wooden and snapped under the stress. The other pole was steel. It did not break, but was leaning about 30 degrees.
“It didn’t break. The ground was so wet and soft and just pulled it over,” Timmons said. “We won’t put wooden poles back in there. We will upgrade to stronger concrete or steel poles.”
When the lines fell across the four-lane road, it cut power to the substation near Nesco on South Green Street. Most of south and central Tupelo were without power for about an hour.
Some folks out in the county were not as fortunate. Some were without power for several hours, according to Tombigbee Electric Power Association director Bill Long.
“We didn’t have any one major issue,” Long said. “There were a lot of little things. Most of the problems were caused by tree limbs falling on lines.
“It was pretty widespread. We had a few large trees down, but we had calls all over Lee and Itawamba counties.”
Before Tupelo and Fulton felt the storm, it first hit Pontotoc County, leaving a swath of downed trees, especially along Highway 41.
Pontotoc Electric Power Association director Chuck Howell said the problems started around 12:30 a.m. in the southern part of the county when the Algoma breaker tripped. Howell said that other breakers began to trip after that, from the city to almost every corner of the county.
While the main lines were restored Thursday morning, it took most of the day to get all the individual houses back on line.
Downed trees caused some minor problems along the Tanglefoot Trail. By mid-afternoon Thursday, trail supervisor Keith Herring said the trail was cleared of all downed trees from Pontotoc to New Albany.
The National Weather Service in Memphis said all of the damage was caused by thunderstorms and straight-line winds. There have been no reports of tornadoes in the state.