The National Weather Service, in cooperation with law enforcement, emergency management officials, media outlets and area residents, conducted a ground survey of damage across northern Mississippi. Early on the afternoon of Monday, January 3rd, a supercell thunderstorm developed on the tail end of a line of showers and thunderstorms extending from west Tennessee into northern Mississippi. This storm produced a swath of damage (Figure 1) from the northeast corner of Yalobusha county through eastern Lafayette county and eventually into western Union county as it raced northeastward at 55 mph..
Around 1:30 PM, a tornado first developed just south of Highway 315 in the community of Hawkins Crossing (5 miles east of Water Valley). On the south side of the road, a house and a church sustained minor roof damage along with numerous windows being blown out. The tornado appeared to lift briefly before touching down 1.2 miles to the northeast along Highway 315. Here, a home (Picture 1) was blown three feet off the foundation with only the west facing wall left standing. A woman inside the home at the time sustained minor cuts and bruises and was transported to the hospital. Just east of the home, two mobile homes (Picture 2), one a double wide, were completely destroyed with very little debris left. Nine additional homes and one barn received moderate to extensive structural damage. The damage path was 300 yards wide and was rated F2 in intensity.
The next report of damage was in the community of Paris in southwest Lafayette county. A frame house (Picture 3) was lifted eight feet off its foundation with the back end of the house completely blown out (Picture 4). The occupant of the home said he was just coming in the front door of his house when the tornado hit. He was apparently knocked unconscious by flying debris and woke up some time later in the hospital. After receiving treatment for cuts and abrasions, he was released from the hospital. In addition, a house under construction was severely damaged. Several other conventional homes and mobile homes received minor structural damage and numerous trees were snapped or uprooted. The damage was approximately 150 yards wide and was F2 in intensity.
The tornado continued to move quickly northeast with sporadic damage reports from the communities of Denmark and Lafayette Springs in eastern Lafayette county. The next area surveyed was the community of Pinedale in southwest Union county. On Highway 320, a new brick and vinyl siding home (Picture 5) was obliterated with only the foundation intact. Fortunately, there was nobody home at the time. The debris field extended up to 400 yards to the east where a large freezer landed in a lake. Other large items, including the sink, bath tub and refrigerator had not been located at the time of the survey. In addition, a pickup truck (Picture 6) was rolled approximately 20 yards and sustained extensive damage. Trees two to three feet in diameter were completely uprooted. Although fairly narrow in width, 200 yards, the tornado reached its maximum intensity of F3 on the Fujita scale.
The community of Enterprise was next in the path of the tornado. A mobile home was completely destroyed (Picture 7) and a conventional home (Picture 8) (Picture 9) sustained severe damage near Highway 30. Four other homes received extensive structural damage. West Union School had minor roof damage and numerous windows blown out. A teacher at the school, who was also the owner of the home destroyed in Pinedale, reported that the school received the tornado warning in time to implement their safety procedures. A follow-up call to the school indicated that teachers and administration had about 10 minutes to get the students to a safe place before the tornado hit. Subsequently, there were no injuries reported at the school. Here, the tornado (Radar 1) (Radar 2) reached its greatest width of 600 yards (approximately 1/3 of a mile). Most of the damage was rated F1 in intensity with a narrow swath of F2 damage.
The tornado continued its northeast track with several mobile homes damaged or destroyed near Myrtle. Due to time constraints, this damage was not surveyed. After conversations with Tippah county residents and law enforcement, it appears the tornado dissipated just south of the Tippah county line shortly after 2:00 PM. However, residents reported finding a canceled check from the home leveled in Pinedale along with other debris such as insulation as far north as Blue Mountain in southwest Tippah county.