Rare EF-5 Tornado Confirmed in Smithville, MS (4/27/2011); UPDATED (5/9/2011)


Only the third time since the Enhanced Fujita or EF scale was introduced a few years ago that we have a EF-5 tornado. The first two were Greensburg, KS in 2007 and Parkersburg, IA in 2009. Now we can add a third tornado to that. The mega outbreak of April 27th produced the third EF-5 tornado on the EF scale with the Smithville, MS tornado. Keep in mind, this tornado was originally given an high end EF-4 rating with winds of 190 miles per hour on Thursday, April 28th but early on the morning of Friday, April 29th, the National Weather Service changed that to an EF-5 with winds of 205 miles per hour. Since this post, a tornado in Hackleburg, Alabama has received an EF-5 rating after further evaluating.

During a press conference that occurred at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 28, 2011, Mayor Gregg Kennedy of Smithville, Mississippi revealed that over 150 homes along with the city”s 14 businesses & the city’s government offices including city hall and the police department were all destroyed. Plus, the twister leveled the Smithville Funeral Home, a Texaco gas station, a Dollar General store and a Piggly Wiggly, police also said.

Below is a picture, courtesy of the Associated Press, of the destructive of Smithville, MS. I will tell you, this picture speaks for itself.

People did know that this twister was coming. Residents who survived said that you could see tree branches falling from the sky prior to the twister destroying the town.

Author’s notes (added 5/9/2011): A violent tornado struck Smithville, Mississippi, at 2:44 p.m. CDT on April 27. The damage path was 15.24 miles long, half a mile wide, and did extreme damage in Smithville. The NWS damage survey reported EF5 damage, with 18 homes, a post office, a police station, and what was listed as the “water system” completely destroyed, with 52 homes and 7 businesses damaged to varying degrees. Dozens of newly constructed two-story, brick homes were leveled and trees were debarked. At least five people are reported as missing. Damage assessments have determined that 150 homes, 14 businesses and 2 churches were destroyed by the tornado in Smithville. The homes were well-built, of recent construction, but the storm was violent enough that all appliances and plumbing fixtures in the damage path were “shredded or missing.” 27 people were killed, and 40 injured. The tornado has been officially rated as an EF5 tornado with estimated winds of 205 mph; information is still preliminary. The National Weather Service has determined that this tornado continued across the state line and struck Shottsville, Alabama.

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MEMPHIS TN
812 AM CDT FRI APR 29 2011

…PRELIMINARY RARE EF-5 TORNADO IN MONROE COUNTY MISSISSIPPI…

AFTER A REVIEW OF THE DAMAGE PHOTOS TAKEN DURING THURSDAY/S GROUND
SURVEY AND CONSULTATION WITH NATIONAL EXPERTS…THE NATIONAL
WEATHER SERVICE IN MEMPHIS HAS UPGRADED THE SMITHVILLE TORNADO
RATING TO EF-5 DAMAGE. THIS IS THE HIGHEST RATING FOR TORNADO
DAMAGE AND THE FIRST EF-5 OR F-5 IN MISSISSIPPI SINCE THE
CANDLESTICK PARK TORNADO NEAR JACKSON ON MARCH 3RD 1966.

* COUNTY/COUNTIES: MONROE
* LOCATION/TIME OF EVENT: SMITHVILLE AT 344 PM EDT
* BEGINNING POINT: 34.0517, -88.4236
* ENDING POINT: 34.0731, -88.3814
* RATING: EF-5
* ESTIMATED PEAK WIND: 205 MPH
* PATH LENGTH: 2.82 MILES
* MAXIMUM WIDTH: 1/2 MILE
* FATALITIES: 14
* INJURIES: 40
* SUMMARY OF DAMAGES: 18 HOMES DESTROYED…2 BUSINESSES /POST OFFICE AND POLICE STATION/ DESTROYED…8 HOMES WITH MAJOR DAMAGE…7 BUSINESSES WITH MAJOR DAMAGE…44 HOMES WITH MINOR DAMAGE…AND WATER SYSTEM DESTROYED. MOST TREES EITHER SNAPPED OR TWISTED AND DEBARKED. MOST THE HOMES DESTROYED WERE WELL BUILT…TWO STORIES…LESS THAN TEN YEARS OLD AND BOLTED DOWN TO THEIR FOUNDATIONS. AN 1965 CHEVY PICKUP TRUCK PARKED IN FRONTONE OF THE DESTROYED HOMES HAS NOT BEEN FOUND. ALL APPLIANCES AND PLUMBING FIXTURES IN THE MOST EXTREME DAMAGE PATH SHREDDED OR MISSING.

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