By Holbrook Mohr/The Associated Pres
JACKSON — Winds that reached estimated speeds of 110 miles per hour in central Mississippi damaged more than 40 homes as severe storms dumped large hail and heavy rain flooded roads, officials said Wednesday, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.
A line of severe thunderstorms was sweeping across the Southeast, and there was a report of a tornado and several suspected twisters in Florida, but there was no damage or injuries.
Daniel Lamb, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson, said officials went to Simpson County to determine if it was a tornado that hit the area. Three homes there were destroyed and 40 others were damaged, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said.
“This damage was from straight line wind,” Lamb said. “This was more exceptional straight line winds than we normally see.”
Lamb said the highest wind estimates were 110 mph in northern Simpson County and estimates were as high as 90 mph in Copiah County.
Mike Edmonston, another meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson, said flood waters seeped into at least eight homes in Scott County. More than two dozen roads were at least temporarily shut down in Copiah County due flooding, debris or damage, emergency officials said. Some areas along the Interstate 20 corridor saw between 3 inches and 4 inches of rain.
“We’ve got tons of damage reports, mainly hail, really,” Edmonston said.
Golf ball-sized hail hit Claiborne, Copiah, Rankin and Simpson counties, with smaller hail in other areas.
Edmonston said golf ball-sized hail was also reported across the state line in Tensas Parish Louisiana and lightning blew out the back window of a police car in Franklin Parish.
Hail was reported as far north as Grenada in Mississippi, but most of the largest chunks of ice fell in central Mississippi. One report, Edmonston said, was that hail 4-inches deep coated some areas and the ice was piled a foot deep in a few spots, Lamb said.
Strong wind also knocked down trees in many areas.