Storm kills 3-year-old girl in Miss. hit by tree

By The Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A 3-year-old girl is dead after a storm blew an oak tree onto her family’s home in southern Mississippi.

Pike County Coroner Percy Pittman says Jabriel M. Branch was in the same room with her parents when the tree crashed through the roof early Tuesday.

Pittman says Jabriel’s mother, 26-year-old Chaquanna C. Miller, and father, 37-year-old Jeremy Branch, were being treated in a local emergency room. He says their injuries were not life threatening, but all three family members had to be cut out of the home because of the structural damage.

County emergency management director Richard Coghlan says it appears strong winds from a thunderstorm caused the damage in the city of McComb.

The death was first reported by the Enterprise-Journal.

In Covington County, officials said Tuesday there was damage to a scrap metal business, a barn and two mobile homes outside Collins.

“I think it was a tornado,” said Covington County emergency management director Greg Sanford.

The National Weather Service would be sending out crews to check different areas to confirm what type of storm came through.

One person in a trailer was treated for minor injuries and released from a local hospital, Sanford said.

“We had power lines and trees down, but everything is up and running now,” he said.

Throughout central and south-central counties, Entergy crews are working to restore power in some areas.

“We had trees down in the central part of the state, and it intensified in Simpson and Smith counties. There’s wind damage from the actual thunderstorms, and in Covington County it might have been a tornado,” said Chad Entremont, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

In Warren County, “we had about 19 trees down and 4,000 customers who lost power because of downed power lines and trees,” said emergency management operations officer Samuel Barnes.

“We had an incident with a vehicle running into a tree, but no injuries. We have a lot of loose tree limbs and branches.”

In Simpson County, “we had one tree down and scattered power outages, and that’s about it,” said emergency management director Glen Jennings.

Entergy Mississippi reported 10,572 customers in 31 counties without power as of about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. The largest outages are in Warren County, with about 2,764 affected, said company spokeswoman Mara Hartmann.

Entremont said there is more bad weather ahead.

“It’s a really powerful system, and conditions will be favorable … through the night Wednesday for more severe storms, including tornadoes, some possibly strong and with damaging winds,” Entremont said. “It’s going to be rough, potentially.”

He said most of the damage from the storms last night and early today weren’t caused by the thunderstorms, but instead by a big drop in pressure that produced the high winds.

“Usually the winds go in the direction the storm is moving, but because they came when the rain was ending, it went in a different direction,” he said. “They moved south to north.

“A wake low occurred,” he said. “The surface pressure rapidly falls, and it drops when the rain ends. The winds increase at that point.”

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.