Thursday's storm came three days short of the 1936 tornado's 73rd anniversary

BY DANZA JOHNSON
Daily Journal
TUPELO – City workers started Friday morning the same way they ended Thursday night, cutting and clearing out fallen trees, branches and power lines and poles.
Winds that exceeded 60 mph left many areas in the city without power and standing trees Thursday night.
Johnny Timmons, director of Tupelo Water and Light, said that when his crews arrived at North Madison Street on Thursday night, it look like a war zone.
A large oak tree in front of the Tupelo-Lee County Library fell on power lines, causing a domino effect that collapsed five poles and some traffic lights.
“That Madison area was the hardest hit area,” said Timmons. “It was a mess. We had five downed poles stretching all the way from the library to Martinizing Cleaners. But by 12:30 today (Friday) we had power restored everywhere in the city.”
The work was evident as trucks from ATamp&T and Comcast lined the sidewalks of North Madison Street repairing phone and cable lines.
Madison may have taken the brunt of the damage, but not all of it. Clayton Avenue, Jefferson Street, Robins Street and Highland Circle residents also cleaned up after the storm.
Friday afternoon, Thomas James piled fallen tree limbs onto the curb. Even though he didn’t lose power during the storm, James said he was affected.
“We had a lot of limbs and stuff to clean up this morning,” he said. “We had limbs in our yard that came from three houses down. We are blessed that the wind didn’t cause any property damage. It just caused me to have to work on my off day.”
Thursday’s storm came three days before the 73rd anniversary of the Tupelo tornado that swept from southeast to northwest and killed 233 people, making it the fourth deadliest tornado in U.S. history.
Stormy weather
That tornado slammed into Tupelo about 8:30 p.m. It was an F5 on the Fujita scale, causing total destruction along its path. The tornado missed the downtown business district but moved through the residential areas of Tupelo, destroying many homes, and killing whole families who had little or no warning. A very young Elvis Presley and his mother were two of the survivors.
On Friday, Tom Groome at First Presbyterian Church supervised cleanup at his church on Jefferson Street where a large tree fell and shattered parts of a stout brick wall.
“We had planned to take that tree down anyway,” he said, “but Mother Nature helped us along.”
According to Lee County E911, some people reported trees falling on their houses. Supervisor Tanya Mayo said the agency was “slammed” with calls Thursday night.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Kattie McNeal said Lee County wasn’t the only area that got bullied by the storm. Monroe, Prentiss, Itawamba and Chickasaw counties all sustained wind damage.
But a couple of days makes a difference. According to the NWS, clearer and dryer skies are ahead – at least for today with a high of 73 degrees and a low at night of 55 degrees.
Sunday is expected to bring a 40 percent chance of thunderstorm with a high of 72.
Contact Danza Johnson at 662.678.1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.

Danza Johnson