April 28, 2014 1:54:14 PM
The National Weather Service in Jackson has issued a tornado watch for the entire Golden Triangle Area until 9 p.m.
NWS has projected the area in the high risk category, indicating the possibility of large hail, damaging winds, heavy rain and the possibility of strong tornadoes this afternoon. Most of the area will begin to see deteriorating weather conditions at 4 p.m. and see the threat of severe weather continue until around midnight, according to NWS forecasts.
Due to the slow-moving nature of the storm system, heavy flooding is likely this afternoon into Tuesday with wind gusts up to at least 30 mph.
All area grade schools have dismissed early, while East Mississippi Community College has cancelled evening classes. Mississippi State University announced that it closed at 3 p.m. today and today's evening classes have been cancelled.
Multiple news outlets reported tornado damage today in Tupelo, which is roughly 60 miles north of Columbus. The Daily Journal reported that "at least one tornado caused extensive damage." The damage was in the area of North Gloster Street, Green Street and the Lakeshire subdivision. Two gas stations are reportedly destroyed. West Tupelo sustained lesser damage, with early reports of downed trees, fallen power lines and property damage, according to the newspaper.
No injuries have been reported at this time.
Gov. Phil Bryant declared a State of Emergency today in preparation of the weather. A state of emergency declaration is an administrative tool that allows state officials to position and deploy resources to assist areas that are affected by an emergency.
The State Emergency Operations Center is partially activated with key response personnel and is prepared to fully activate if necessary.
"This storm system has the potential to create dangerous conditions, and we are monitoring it closely," Bryant said in a statement. "Residents should not overreact but should make plans now to ensure they are prepared for a variety of conditions, including strong winds and rains and the possibility of hail and tornadoes. Know how to receive emergency information and know where you will go if you need to seek shelter."
Residents can find preparedness information at MEMA's website, www.msema.org.
This story will be updated as information becomes available.