Saturday’s Yazoo City tornado finds place in tornado history

The tornado that smashed Yazoo City on Saturday was wider than the Greensburg tornado – though not as strong – and had one of the longest damage paths in recorded tornado history, weather officials say.

The tornado was on the ground for 149 miles, from 5 miles west of Tallulah, Louisiana, to about 5 miles north of Sturgis, Miss. The tornado was on the ground for nearly 3 hours and reached a maximum width of 1.75 miles. The Greensburg tornado, by comparison, was measured at 1.7 miles wide – though it should be noted that it was not the widest tornado in the outbreak of May 4, 2007.

Storm damage surveys placed Saturday’s tornado at EF3 during much of its path but EF4 through Yazoo and Holmes counties.

That only 10 people died and nearly 50 were injured by the large tornado is a testament to early warnings and residents responding appropriately. Witnesses said the tornado was often difficult to see because it was rain-wrapped.

Storm chaser Dick McGowan shared this photo of the tornado as it neared Yazoo City.

YazooCityMcGowan

Only five tornadoes in recorded history have confirmed damage paths longer than the Yazoo City tornado, which traversed nearly the entire width of Mississippi before dissipating.

The longest track of them all belongs to the Tri-State Tornado of 1925, which was on the ground for 219 miles. That tornado killed nearly 700 people.

It’s safe to say that without modern warning systems, Saturday’s monstrous, long-lived tornado would have killed hundreds as well.