April 14, 2018 10:01:48 PM
A severe thunderstorm ripped through Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties Saturday morning, leaving a path of wind damage in its wake.
No injuries were reported in either county, and the National Weather Service has not officially determined if the storm actually produced a tornado as it moved through the region.
Trees fell on at least two homes -- one on Lincoln Road and another on Old Aberdeen Road -- in north Columbus as the storm came through, local authorities told The Dispatch. Wind blew the roof off a building at the Trimjoist complex on Highway 182 in east Columbus, causing employees of the building truss manufacturer scrambling to cover machinery and equipment as rain continued to fall early Saturday afternoon.
Other businesses along Highway 45 North in Columbus suffered minor wind damage.
Trees also fell on Shoney Drive and on Fourth Street South near Friendship Cemetery, Columbus Police Chief Fred Shelton said. CPD was working alongside the city's Public Works Department into Saturday afternoon clearing debris from roadways, he added.
"We moved debris off to the side of the road, and Public Works came to pick it up," Shelton said.
In Oktibbeha County, Emergency Management Director Kristen Campanella reported trees down on houses on West Lakeshore Drive and on Vine Street. She said her office also received reports of trees down on Pike Road, Crawford Road and Robinson Road in the Oktoc area.
The National Weather Service first issued a tornado warning in Oktibbeha County at about 10 a.m., after weather radar picked up "a little surge in the line" -- indicating rotation -- as it moved through the Oktoc community southeast of Starkville, according to meteorologist Daniel Lamb with NWS in Jackson.
From there, it moved northeast into Lowndes County, producing moderate wind gusts of 45 miles per hour around Golden Triangle Regional Airport, Lamb said. It then powered through north Columbus and into Caledonia, with the most severe threat leaving the area by noon.
Lamb said a team will likely visit the Golden Triangle soon to survey damage to determine if the storm indeed produced a tornado. As of now, he said, reports are uncertain.
"Based on the way it was laid out, I'm confident there was damage from straight-line winds," Lamb said. "There is potential that some of the damage could have come from a tornado."
Downed power lines throughout the storm's path kept some Golden Triangle residents in the dark Saturday. In some cases, outages lasted several hours.
Columbus Light and Water Executive Director Todd Gale estimated about 500 north Columbus customers -- from Wendy's on Highway 45 and northeast to the Holly Hills neighborhood -- lost power during the storm.
CLW restored power to most of those customers within an hour, but crews continued to work into Saturday evening to repair outages on Lincoln and Old Aberdeen roads where the most trees reportedly fell.
Gale said crews also worked several hours to restore power at the 1600 block of Bell Avenue on Southside and the Fox Run subdivision in north Columbus.
Jon Turner, manager of public relations and marketing with 4-County Electric Power Association, said slightly more than 1,000 customers lost power Saturday. 4-County covers rural customers in the Golden Triangle and surrounding counties.
He said the biggest concentrations of power outages were east of Golden Triangle Regional Airport and in north Columbus.
Turner also said some outages were reported in the Oktoc area in Oktibbeha County, as well as in some in Chickasaw County.