Wind, rain, tornadoes rip through central Mississippi

By Staff and wire reports

JACKSON— Severe storms, including possible tornadoes, ripped through central Mississippi on New Year’s Eve, and emergency teams were working Saturday to survey the extensive damage left in the wake of heavy wind and rain.

The National Weather Service in Jackson reported at least three people hurt and extensive structural damage after storms tore through the state on Friday afternoon. No one was killed.

The storms knocked down trees and power lines. About 6 inches of rain fell in places, leading to flash flooding.

Forecasters said the worst damage appeared to be in Attala County, where there were several reports of possible tornadoes. But damage also was reported in Hinds, Noxubee and Rankin counties.

The storm was part of a system that ripped through the Midwest and South on New Year’s Eve, killing six people in Missouri and Arkansas.

“It looks like a rip-roaring start to the New Year,” said Ed Agre, a senior forecaster at the National Weather Service in Jackson.

He and other forecasters at the National Weather Service’s building at the Jackson airport were forced into a tornado shelter when winds hit 60 miles per hour.

“It was pretty intense,” Agre said. “That was one of the rare times we’ve used that (shelter) in the last 20 years.”

The Clarion-Ledger newspaper in Jackson reported that the storm forced the evacuation of about 200 people from the Jackson-Evers International Airport, where a possible tornado was reported crossing a runway. The airport was forced to run on generators and a hangar was damaged, officials said.

Power was knocked out to about 20,000 customers, and by Saturday afternoon about 10,000 remained without power, Entergy Mississippi reported.

According to @stormcasher4850 on Twitter – a possible tornado blew the roof off strip mall and downed power lines near Oby’s Restaurant in the Starkville area (1:15 am CST). There was no official confirmation of that information.

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