Natural Disasters

Mississippi tornadoes kill at least 26, injure dozens overnight

The tornado hit about 60 miles north of Jackson, Mississippi, sweeping through towns at 70 mph without weakening as it raced toward Alabama.

Mississippi tornadoes kill at least 26, injure dozens overnight
Layton Hoyer via AP

Tornadoes that tore through Mississippi Friday night have left at least 26 dead, dozens injured and four missing, according to official reports. 

The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency expects those numbers to change, the agency said in a Twitter post.

This is now the deadliest tornado event in Mississippi in 12 years, according to records from the National Weather Service that show 31 people died in the state in April 2011 during tornadoes that tore through several states.

The overnight storm destroyed buildings and knocked out power as severe weather produced hail the size of golf balls and moved through several southern states, according to the Associated Press.

Officials in Mississippi have been meeting to gather more information on the storm and determine a plan of action. Information regarding shelter and feeding operations was announced via MSEMA’s Twitter account.

The agency has asked residents not to self-deploy.

“Volunteer Mississippi is asking private citizens not to self-deploy. They will work to match unaffiliated volunteers with affiliated groups on the ground when the time is right. If you would like to donate water or resources, the Rolling Fork Civic Center is open to receive them,” MSEMA said on Twitter.

Tornado alley is expanding, hitting more southern states than ever
Tornado alley is expanding, hitting more southern states than ever

Tornado alley is expanding, hitting more southern states than ever

Scientists aren't completely sure what's causing the shift, but climate change could be partly to blame.

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Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said he was headed to the first-hit area of Sharkey County after completing a briefing on the storm.

“Just completed command briefing with our disaster response team. Devastating damage—as everyone knows. This is a tragedy. I am on my way to Sharkey County to be with the people first hit. We are blessed with brave, capable responders and loving neighbors. Please continue to pray,” Reeves said on Twitter.

President Joe Biden released a statement following the storm, saying the images he has seen are "heartbreaking" and that he has offered "full federal support" to the state. 

"Today, I reached out to Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, and have spoken to Senator Wicker, Senator Hyde-Smith, and Congressman Bennie Thompson to express my condolences and offer full federal support as communities recover from the effects of this storm," President Biden said. "I also spoke to FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, who has already deployed emergency response personnel and resources to support search-and-rescue teams, assess the damage, and focus our federal support where it is needed most quickly."

Unfortunately, the storm is not over yet. According to MSEMA, a large portion of the state has the potential to see severe storms Sunday evening, and they are expecting damaging wind gusts. MSEMA says that tornadoes cannot be ruled out.

This is a developing story, please check back for updates.