Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Tornado Chronicles: Pearl River County, MS Tornado of December 25, 2012...

Of all of the tornadoes associated with the Christmas Day Tornado Outbreak of 2012, the longest tracked and most intense has been dubbed the "Pearl River County Tornado".  It gets its name from the county in which it initially touched down in extreme southern Mississippi.  

According to the National Weather Service's (NWS) ground surveys, this tornado initially touched down about 2.75 miles Southwest of the town of McNeil, and tracked approximately 61 miles to the Northeast before lifting near the town of McLain in western Greene County, MS (click to enlarge):

This tornado was on the ground for nearly 90 minutes, from 3:10 pm until approximately 4:34 p.m. CST.  

The maximum damage path width associated with the tornado was about 175 yards, with EF-3 intensity damage (estimated winds of around 140 mph) found along Joe Smith Road and Sones Chapel Rd. near McNeil, MS:

As you can see in the photo above, all but 2 small portions of an interior wall collapsed on this home which was made of a wood frame with brick veneer, providing the basis for the EF-3 intensity rating of the tornado.

There was extensive damage classified within the EF-2 intensity category from just Southwest of McNeil to just northeast of McNeil, as shown in the damage photos below (from the NWS survey):

From there, the tornado weakened after crossing Highway 11, causing mostly EF-0 to EF-1 intensity damage to trees and damage to some roofs:

The damage survey in Pearl County indicated that 22 homes were completely destroyed, 8 homes had major damage and 25 homes had minor damage.  Approximately 8 people were injured, but none seriously thank goodness.  

The tornado reintensified to EF-2 intensity near Red Hill Church Road along the Pear River / Stone County lines, and produced fairly extensive EF-2 damage as it crossed Will Lee Road in Stone County.  Several mobile homes were completely destroyed at this point along the tornado's path, with much of the debris completely carried away:

Shortly after crossing Will Lee Road in Stone County, the tornado weakened once again, producing mostly EF-0 and EF-1 intensity damage, mainly in the form of downed trees and tree limbs along much of its track through Forrest County.

By the time the tornado reached extreme northeast Forrest County, approaching the Perry County line, it began producing EF-2 intensity damage once again near the intersection of Pap Armstrong Road and Jay Bailey Road.  This included the snapping of utility poles as well as complete to near complete destruction of several mobile homes:

As the tornado crossed the Perry County line, it caused mainly EF-0 to low end EF-1 damage to trees until it reached the State Highway 29 and Lula Cooley Road areas in the northeast part of the county.  Here, additional utility poles were snapped in half or completely uprooted and extensive EF-2 damage was done to additional mobile homes in the area:

The tornado then weakened back to EF-0 to low end EF-1 intensity, mainly causing damage to trees and tree limbs as it crossed the Greene County line and lifted just to the North/Northeast of the town of McLain.

Despite the fact that the tornado was on the ground for nearly 90 minutes and crossed I-59 as well as Highway 49 in Mississippi, no photos or videos of the tornado itself have been revealed so far.  We will be sure to post any updates, including photos of the actual tornado, if and when they become available...

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