Tornadoes threatened PRC during height of Isaac; torrential rains lashed county

Published 8:37 pm Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pearl River County Emergency Management Director Danny Manley said Pearl River County was threatened with tornadoes laced in Hurricane Isaac’s feeder bands as they swept over the county on Wednesday.

At least one tornado was reported near McNeill, and the top of a trailer home was blown off in Pine Grove Community, officials said, but no injuries from a tornado or Hurricane Isaac had been reported by 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

But stiff tropical-force winds and heavy torrential rains buffeted the county all day Wednesday.

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Manley said that his staff had reports that tornadoes had been reported by radar in northern Harrison County and were moving toward Poplarville and the McNeill area. That was at about 1 p.m. Wednesday.

“That’s what we are working on right now is to get warnings out on these threats,” Manley said from the Emergency Operations Center where his staff was working all day Wednesday, monitoring the storm and answering emergency calls.

Manley said that 43 people left their homes and sought shelter in Pearl River County, that rain since midnight Tuesday to about 1 p.m. Wednesday had amounted to 4 inches at his headquarters, and that winds had hit tropical force in the county. The rain gauge at the Picayune Item overflowed its six inch range.

The eye of Isaac had stalled near Houma, La., on Wednesday, and that froze Pearl River County in the northeastern quadrant, usually the most potent portion of the storm. Torrential rains lashed the county all day Wednesday.

Officials reported some damage from winds, but that was not the most dangerous aspect of the storm. Authorities said they were more worried about flooding.

Isaac remained a tropical storm most of the time it spent in the Gulf but warm Gulf waters fed Isaac, and it was a Category 1 storm when it hit the Louisiana coast. But its feeder bands carried heavy torrential rains. On Wednesday, weather experts said they expected it to dump from 7 to 15 inches and in some isolated spots as much as  20 inches of rain on southeastern Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coast counties, before exiting the area.

Most businesses were closed in Picayune all day Wednesday and streets were mostly empty. Only a few quick stop stores were open.

Officials warned residents to stay off the roads and most heeded that warning. Most Picayune streets were empty and abandoned, except for Picayune police patrols.

Stiff winds and heavy sheets of rain pounded Picayune, Pearl River County and Poplarville all day Wednesday.

Weather experts said on Wednesday that Isaac had stalled near Houma but predicted that it would again start to move to the northwest at about six miles per hour.

Manley on Wednesday about 1 p.m. said that he and his staff hoped the worst of the storm will have passed through the county by 7 p.m. as Isaac continues to move north.

At noon Wednesday, a National Hurricane Center advisory placed the storm 10 miles northwest of Houma. Isaac was soaking southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi with heavy rain and dangerous coastal storm surges, and an inland flood threat was expected through midnight Wednesday.

Isaac was about 45 miles west southwest of New Orleans at noon Wednesday.

Maximum sustained winds were 75 mph. Isaac was moving northwest at six mph.

The general motion to the northwest was to continue to Thursday night and then Isaac was expected to take a turn to the north-northwest that would place it in Arkansas by Friday morning.

There were some gusts higher than 75 mph.

Isaac is expected to weaken during the next 48 hours.

Hurricane force winds extended 45 miles out from the center of the storm.

Tropical-storm-force winds extended up to 175 miles from the center.