High winds, Rain expected to hit area tonight

March 27, 2009

Neal Wagner -


Golden Triangle residents tonight and Saturday may be facing heavy rains, frequent lightning and high winds as a powerful storm system is expected to cross the area, according to Lowndes County Emergency Management Agency Director Cindy Lawrence. 


"The potential severe weather isn''t expected to get into our area until after midnight tonight," Lawrence said this morning during a brief EMA meeting. "The National Weather Service has predicted an EF3 or EF4 tornado somewhere in Mississippi tonight." 


An EF3 tornado will have winds between 136 and 165 mph; an EF4''s winds could range between 166 and 200 mph, according to information from the NWS. (The EF -- or Enhanced Fujita -- scale ranges wind speeds more accurately than the old Fujita system and takes into account it takes lower wind speed than previously thought to cause certain amounts of damage.) 


The storms are expected to reach the area between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., and could last into Saturday morning, according to forecasts from the National Weather Service in Jackson. 


Because 28 people were injured early Thursday morning when an EF3 tornado touched down in Simpson County in south-central Mississippi, Lawrence urged local residents to remain alert through the night. 


"The Simpson County tornado was about as bad as the Caledonia tornado was for us," Lawrence said. "The reason they had so many injuries was because the tornado hit in the middle of the night when a lot of people were asleep in their homes. 


"We are urging everyone in Lowndes County to have some way of getting weather information into their home, whether it''s leaving the TV on all night or using a weather radio," Lawrence added. "We will sound the tornado sirens if there is a tornado or if the wind gusts reach more than 70 mph." 


The NWS this morning issued a flood warning for the Luxapalila Creek, which is expected to last until late Saturday morning. The creek is predicted to rise above its 15-foot flood stage by about 7 a.m. Saturday and could last through the weekend, according to NWS reports. 


Although the storms are expected to bring more than 2 inches of rain during the next 24 hours, Emergency Management officials are not expecting heavy flooding in Lowndes County, Lawrence said. 


"We didn''t get as much rain this week as the Weather Service originally anticipated," Lawrence said. "So the flooding may not be as bad as they originally predicted. 


"Most of our concern with this storm will be wind-related," Lawrence added. "But we will definitely keep a lookout for flash flooding in streets and things like that." 


Tonight''s severe weather is expected to come at the end of a week highlighted by severe weather across the South.  


In addition to Thursday''s Simpson County tornado, tornadoes and severe thunderstorms early this morning also swept across southern Louisiana and Alabama, damaging property, but causing no serious injuries.