As dawn broke over Mississippi, a trail of destruction left by powerful tornadoes ripping through the state was laid bare, one town obliterated by the devastating storm.
At least 23 people were killed across several county’s in the region, four remain missing and dozens are injured, as emergency services start the long process of assessing the damage left behind by the 24 twisters.
Most of the impact spawned from a storm that carved a ferocious path northeastward across Mississippi and Alabama at 80mph, according to AccuWeather.
The rural towns of Silver City and Rolling Fork, about 60 miles northeast of Jackson, Mississippi, bore the brunt of damage from a tornado that hit the area just after 8 pm Friday.
Shattered residents were seen wandering through a wasteland of debris in Rolling Fork, as others picked through the rubble of their gutted homes hoping to save what valuables they had left.
As dawn broke a trail of destruction left by powerful tornadoes ripping through Mississippi was laid bare with one town obliterated by the devastating storm
At least 23 people were killed across several county’s in the region while four remain missing as emergency services started to assess the damage of the 24 twisters recorded by the storm prediction center
Over 30 million people were under a tornado warning through the evening, and were being warned to brace for the killer storms which brought golf ball-sized hail.
Homes had their roofs ripped off and power lines were downed – leaving victims trapped under rubble and thousands without power.
Authorities warned those in its path to brace for a ‘life threatening situation’ and on Saturday morning deployed search-and-rescue teams to several county’s in the region.
‘I’ve never seen anything like this,’ Rolling Fork resident Brandy Showah told CNN. ‘This was a very great small town, and now it’s gone.’
The Governor of Mississippi, Tate Reeves, tweeted early Saturday: ‘At least twenty three Mississippians were killed by last night’s violent tornadoes.’
‘We know that many more are injured. Search and rescue teams are still active.
‘The loss will be felt in these towns forever. Please pray for God’s hand to be over all who lost family and friends.’
Shattered residents were seen wandering through a wasteland of debris in Rolling Fork, as others picked through the rubble of their gutted homes hoping to save what valuables they had left
Mississippi Emergency Management Agency met on Saturday morning to get more information about the overnight storms and plan how to tackle the devastation
Later he tweeted: ‘Just completed command briefing with our disaster response team. Devastating damage – as everyone knows.’
‘This is a tragedy. I am on my way to Sharkey County to be with the people first hit. We are blessed with brave, capable responders and loving neighbors. Please continue to pray.’
U.S. president Joe Biden is yet to comment on the ravaged state.
Mississippi Emergency Management Agency met on Saturday morning to get more information about the overnight storms and plan how to tackle the devastation.
They tweeted a picture from the meeting and said: ‘Currently meeting with our command staff to get more information in the overnight storms and our plan of action moving forward.’
‘Information regarding sheltering and feeding operations coming soon.’
So far, recorded deaths include 13 roughly 60 miles northwest of Jackson in Sharkey County, home to Rolling Fork, according to county coroner Angelia Easton.
Three others were killed and at least two in a critical condition in Humphreys County, emergency management director Royce Steed told the outlet early Saturday morning.
In Carroll County, three people died in one home, coroner Mark Stiles said adding that it appears they were killed in a tornado.
Search and rescue teams have been deployed to Sharkey County, Mississippi after a severe storm ripped through the community
Severe damage has been reported in the town of Rolling Fork, Mississippi after the tornado ripped through homes and businesses
A house in Sharkey County is seen torn apart on Friday night after the tornado blitzed its way across the area
Meanwhile, two people were killed in Monroe County in northeastern Mississippi, coroner Alan Gurley said.
The tornado has left a trail of destruction and storm debris at least 100 miles long, and is reportedly already battering Alabama.
The storms knocked out power for more than 100,000 homes and businesses across Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee as of 5.45 am ET, with more than 70,000 outages reported in Tennessee alone, according to PowerOutage.us.
NWS issued an urgent alert after the tornado touched down, cautioning: ‘To protect your life, take cover now’.
‘You are in a life-threatening situation,’ it warned. ‘Flying debris may be deadly to those caught without shelter. Mobile homes will be destroyed. Considerable damage to homes, businesses, and vehicles is likely and complete destruction is possible.’
Another home has its roof torn clean off following the devastating winds and lightning on Friday
A line of severe storms is moving across the South during evening and nighttime hours, especially across parts of the lower Mississippi Valley
Search and rescue teams have been deployed to Sharkey and Humphreys counties in Mississippi, while first responders were forced to disperse injured victims to surrounding hospitals after the Sharkey-Issaquena Community Hospital saw significant damage.
Mississippi resident Corney Knight said that he, his wife and their three-year-old daughter were at a relative’s home when the tornado hit, which he described as ‘eerily quiet’ just moments before.
He added the sky was dark but ‘you could see the direction from every transformer that blew’.
More than half a dozen emergency shelters have been set up throughout Mississippi after the twister ripped through homes and businesses.
Significant damage has been seen in the small town of Rolling Fork, Mississippi
Meanwhile cars were spotted trying to flee the area and others regrouped following the tornado
Some residents of the tiny town looked to be standing around in a daze following the carnage
The skies above Pope, Mississippi looked especially threatening on Friday night where flashes of lightning could be seen
Forecasters had been warning residents in parts of the Midwest and South on Friday that dangerously strong winds would be moving through the region
It was pitch black apart from a few power flashes in Anguilla, Mississippi as the tornado passed through
After the twister first tore through the small town of Rolling Fork, Mississippi, storm chaser Zachary Hill tweeted: ‘The damage in Rolling Fork, Mississippi is BAD. People are trapped, we need help here.’
Authorities stressed the urgency of the situation, and Hill said police begged him to get the message out: ‘Major tornado damage, we need as many ambulances as possible and any help for search and rescue in this town.’
Rolling Fork mayor Eldridge Walker told WLBT-TV the tornado left him unable to leave his home after it caused significant damage and downed power lines leading to his property.
‘The west part of Rolling Fork is a residential area, and just a number of houses over there have been completely destroyed,’ added former Rolling Fork mayor Fred Miller.
‘Highway 61, where most of our businesses are, all of the businesses on 61 have been completely destroyed. People are trapped in a couple of the eateries, and people are trying to get them out now.’
A tornado about a mile wide appeared to be crossing Mississippi from Anguilla, through to Silver City, Belzoni and Rolling Fork
Severe thunderstorms in the south on Friday night could produce tornadoes
The tornado has come after several states through the Midwest were battered by a severe weather front, with southern Missouri hit by nearly three inches of rain Thursday night.
Torrential rainfall in the area led to the deaths of two people after their car was swept away in the deluge. Authorities said six young adults were inside the vehicle, however only four escaped.
The body of Devon Holt, 20, of Grovespring, was found at 3.30am, and the body of Alexander Roman-Ranelli, 19, of Springfield, was recovered about six hours later, Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Thomas Young said.
Reports indicate a suspected tornado also touched down early Friday in north Texas, damaging homes and downing trees and power lines.
A red SUV is seen submerged in floodwaters on Old Ritchey Road in Granby, Missouri early on Friday.An elderly woman was recued from the car
A man stuck in a tree is rescued by swift water teams from Copper Canyon Fire and Medical District, and the Verde Valley Fire District in Camp Verde, Arizona. Several water rescues were reported across central and northern Arizona during the week
Torrential rains led to backyards being flooded in Bryant, Arkansas on Friday
Backyards appeared more like lakes following the enormous downpours
A view from this weather satellite shows just how broad the storm appears to be over the south
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards warned of potential tornadoes reaching the state into the weekend, as he urged residents to prepare for significant damage.
As the tornado continued to wreak havoc through the state, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves said in a tweet: ‘Many in the MS Delta need your prayer and God’s protection tonight.
‘We have activated medical support — surging more ambulances and other emergency assets for those affected. Search and rescue is active.’
The storm system was fueled by a dip in the jet stream that powered through California on Tuesday and Wednesday resulting in tornadoes there including one that hit the downtown LA area – the first in the area since 1953.