Final Survey: Hattiesburg Tornado Rated an EF-4

By Anthony Sagliani, Meteorologist
February 13, 2013; 4:05 AM ET
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Update:
Feb. 11, 2013
5:44 p.m.
From the National Weather Service Survey Team out of Jackson, Miss., the tornado in the Hattiesburg area was an EF-4 with winds of 170-mph. The rating is based on damage found near Oak Grove in Lamar County.

Update:
Feb. 11, 2013
1:50 p.m.
From the Lamar County, Miss., survey team: Damage in West Hattiesburg

Update:
Feb. 11, 2013
1:00 p.m.
From the National Weather Service Survey Team out of Jackson, Miss., the tornado in the Hattiesburg area was at least EF-3. The maximum winds in Hattiesburg were 140mph, with winds to 145 mph in W Hattiesburg and Oak Grove. The information is still preliminary with the survey continuing.

Update:
Feb. 11, 2013
9:50 a.m.
The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency has received reports of damage from seven counties as a result of severe weather that moved through the state this evening.

No fatalities have been reported.

The state has deployed a mobile communications trailer and is establishing a command center in Lamar County to assist local emergency responders.

Gov. Phil Bryant declared a State of Emergency for counties affected by today's severe weather. The State of Emergency allows for the use of state resources and assets to support local governments in their response efforts.


Early Sunday evening around 6:00 p.m. CST, tornado sirens rang throughout Hattiesburg, a small city in southern Mississippi. What followed shortly after was a massive, wedge-shaped tornado at least several football fields wide.

The sky turned pitch black as the tornado tore a path of destruction through the city, downing power lines, snapping trees like twigs, and tossing large pieces of debris into roadways like children's toys.

The hardest-hit areas were near the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi. Major damage occurred along a major street paralleling the University and also on the campus itself.

By Midnight on Monday, emergency management officials in the area said they had treated at least 53 people that were on the campus for injuries that ranged from simple scrapes and cuts to much more severe complications. There have been no fatalities reported.

The Hattiesburg tornado was part of a swam of more than a dozen twisters that stuck anywhere from southern Mississippi to southwestern Alabama.

Unseasonable warm and humid air blowing north from the Gulf of Mexico was met by much cooler and drier air being pushed in from the west as a blizzard clobbered the Plains. The result was a twisting motion in the lower part of the atmosphere. Once thunderstorms developed, they tapped into the low-level swirling and spawned tornadoes, some of which were particularly large and violent.

The threat for tornadoes faded during Sunday night, and by Monday morning, the only threat remaining was from flash flooding caused by training thunderstorms earlier in the night.

The San Diego National Weather Service forecast office map above shows the tornado reports across Mississippi and Alabama on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2013.

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