Deadly Mississippi Tornado Enters Record Books

By By Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski
April 29, 2010, 3:08:03 AM EDT

The powerful tornado that devastated a large section of Mississippi on Saturday has entered the record books as one of the longest-tracking, widest, and deadliest tornadoes to tear through Mississippi.

National Weather Service survey officials recently analyzed the tornado's destruction and determined that there was no clear break in its damage trail. That indicates it was one single tornado path.

The twister touched down 5 miles west of Tallulah, La., during the late morning hours. After remaining on the ground for nearly three hours, the tornado finally dissipated 5.5 miles north of Sturgis, Miss.

The tornado traveled a total of 149.25 miles, the fourth longest path of any tornado to pass through Mississippi. The Candlestick Park F5 tornado and its 203 miles, from March 3, 1966, holds the record as the longest-tracking tornado in Mississippi's history.

Along the tornado's path of destruction last Saturday, 10 people were left dead. That means this tornado is Mississippi's ninth deadliest since 1900.

The deadliest tornado in Mississippi since 1900 occurred on Feb. 21, 1971, when 58 people were killed. The all-time deadliest twister in the state's history left 317 people dead near Natchez on May 6, 1840.

Saturday's tornado measured 1.75 miles wide at its peak, making this twister the widest ever to tear through Mississippi.

The tornado was at its widest as it approached the intersection of U.S. Highway 49 and Highway 16 on the south side of Yazoo City. The tornado was also at its strongest at this time, receiving an EF-4 ranking with maximum winds of 170 mph.

The tornado totally destroyed a church and several businesses in the Yazoo City area. Numerous homes also sustained heavy damage or were destroyed.

Even before reaching Yazoo City, the strength of the tornado was impressive, almost immediately after touching down.

The tornado bent and destroyed several high-tension power poles west of Tallulah, La. The twister continued on and blew a semi-truck off Interstate 20.

Interstate traffic was again threatened after the tornado tore through the Yazoo City area. Numerous vehicles were swept off Interstate 55 in central Mississippi.

The weather today will continue to cooperate with cleanup efforts in the wake of this devastating tornado. The threat of severe weather will once again return to Mississippi Friday afternoon.

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