US National Weather Service warns of a risk of more severe weather following a deadly tornado that ripped through the Mississippi Delta killing dozens.
President Joe Biden has issued an emergency declaration for Mississippi, making federal funding available to Carroll, Humphreys, Monroe and Sharkey counties, the areas hardest hit on Friday night by a deadly tornado that ripped through the Mississippi Delta, one of the poorest regions of the US.
Following Biden's declaration early on Sunday, federal funding can be used for recovery efforts including temporary housing, home repairs, loans covering uninsured property losses and other individual and business programs, the White House said in a statement.
FEMA Coordinating Officer John Boyle has been appointed to oversee federal recovery operations.
At least 25 people were killed and dozens of others were injured in Mississippi as the massive storm ripped through several towns on its hour-long path. One man was killed after his trailer home flipped several times in Alabama.
Search and recovery crews on Sunday resumed the daunting task of digging through the debris of flattened and battered homes, commercial buildings and municipal offices after hundreds of people were displaced.
The twister flattened entire blocks, obliterated houses, ripped a steeple off a church and toppled a municipal water tower. Even with recovery just starting, the National Weather Service warned of a risk of more severe weather Sunday — including high winds, large hail and possible tornadoes — in eastern Louisiana, south-central Mississippi and south-central Alabama.
Based on early data, the tornado received a preliminary EF-4 rating, the National Weather Service office in Jackson said late Saturday in a tweet. An EF-4 tornado has top wind gusts between 265 kph and 320 kph, according to the service. The Jackson office cautioned it was still gathering information on the tornado.
READ MORE: Powerful tornado kills more than two dozen in Mississippi, Alabama states
Rare, long-track tornado
The Friday night tornado devastated a swath of the 2,000-person town of Rolling Fork, reducing homes to piles of rubble, flipping cars on their sides and toppling the town’s water tower. Other parts of the Deep South were digging out from the damage caused by other suspected twisters. One man died in Morgan County, Alabama, the sheriff’s department there said in a tweet.
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves issued a state of emergency and vowed to help rebuild as he viewed the damage in a region speckled with wide expanses of cotton, corn and soybean fields and catfish farming ponds. He spoke with Biden, who also held a call with the state’s congressional delegation.
More than a half-dozen shelters were opened in Mississippi to house those who have been displaced.
Preliminary information based on estimates from storm reports and radar data indicate the tornado was on the ground for more than an hour and traversed at least 274 kilometres, said Lance Perrilloux, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Jackson, Mississippi, office.
"That’s rare — very, very rare," he said, attributing the long path to widespread atmospheric instability.
Perrilloux said preliminary findings showed the tornado began its path of destruction just southwest of Rolling Fork before continuing northeast toward the rural communities of Midnight and Silver City and onward toward Tchula, Black Hawk and Winona.
The supercell that produced the deadly twister also appeared to produce tornadoes causing damage in the northwest and north-central Alabama, said Brian Squitieri, a severe storms forecaster with the weather service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
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