Two tornadoes in county last Tuesday

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, March 1, 2016

High pressure will dominate most of this week, ensuring mostly tranquil weather for our region. Expect to see a lot more sun than clouds through Monday. Afternoon high temperatures will be in the 60s and 70s. Lows will be in the 40s.
This week’s chance of showers will come today and tonight and again on Thursday night. Two weak cold fronts will be the triggers.
There could be some thunderstorms during these two periods. Most of the energy with the upper level low pressure troughs associated with these systems will stay to our north, leading forecasters to estimate that there is only about a five percent chance that any thunderstorms in our area will reach severe levels. Total rainfall from both events combined is forecast to be less than one-third of an inch.
That’s a huge contrast with the potent low-pressure system that swept through the South last Tuesday. The combination of rapidly intensifying surface low pressure not far to our northwest, a strong low level jet of wind blowing in from the Gulf of Mexico, and an unusually strong low pressure circulation with very strong winds in the middle and upper levels of the atmosphere, set up the northern Gulf Coast for some of the most dangerous thunderstorms we’ve seen in years.
In many respects the atmospheric conditions along the Gulf Coast from Louisiana eastward across our area and into south Alabama and the Florida Panhandle last week more closely resembled what we often see later in the spring a little farther north in the heart of the so-called “Dixie Tornado Alley” of the mid-South.
The result was an unusual and deadly outbreak of tornadoes in a strip about 100 miles wide along the Gulf Coast. The National Weather Service in Slidell in a statement issued last Friday confirmed 13 tornadoes in southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi.
Two of those occurred in Pearl River County. Both were estimated to have maximum winds near 100 miles per hour. Tornadoes with winds between 86 and 110 miles per hour are categorized as EF-1 on the Enhanced Fujita tornado scale, which is used to classify tornado damage.
The scale has six categories ranging from the weakest EF-0 tornadoes up to EF-5 for the most severe tornadoes, which have winds exceeding 200 miles per hour.
The scale was devised by Theodore Fujita, a pioneer in severe storm and tornado research in the 1950s through the 1990s.
Both tornadoes in Pearl River County touched down just before 4:00 p.m. last Tuesday.
One began in Henleyfield west of Highway 43 and moved rapidly to the east-northeast before lifting up or dissipating west of Derby.
The other of the two twisters clipped the northwest corner of the county after initially touching down near Angie, Louisiana.
Another effect of last Tuesday’s potent storm system was heavy rain. Rainfall totals of three to four inches were common throughout the county, swelling Hobolochitto Creek and its tributaries to minor or moderate flood levels for a couple of days last week.
This week’s mostly dry weather will allow area streams to continue to fall back to lower levels.

By Skip Rigney

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox