Of the two EF-5 tornadoes that carved up Mississippi on April 27, the one that hit Smithville has received the most media attention. That’s understandable – the twister killed more than a dozen people and leveled two-thirds of the town. (Photo gallery.)
These weren’t rickety old shacks that were blown away. The homes were for the large part built in the last 10 years and bolted to their foundations. Another example of how vicious this tornado was: A 1965 Chevy pickup parked outside one of those houses was picked up by wind during the storm, and emergency teams could find no trace of it afterward. (Try Alabama?)
But its twin, an EF-5 that blasted a 29 mile-long path through the counties of Neshoba, Kemper, Winston and Noxubee, was impressive in its own way. It killed three people, relatively few compared to Smithville, but the method by which it did so was horrifying: The twister ripped a doublewide mobile home from the straps holding it to the ground, then threw it 900 feet into a treeline, according to the National Weather Service, which adds, “There was no indication of ground impacts between the original site of the mobile home and where it ended up to indicate that the mobile home bounced extensively as it traveled.”
The power of this tornado was evident in the destruction it inflicted on the country landscape.
It acted like a huge natural shovel, gouging earth from the ground up to depths of two feet, as you can see in the above NWS video. Winds topping out above 200 m.p.h. stripped bark from trees:
And actually removed asphalt from the road:
These photos come courtesy of the NWS office in Jackson, Miss., which has set up a page full of media recorded after this tornado exhausted itself. Head on over and take a look; it's amazing that wind can do this stuff.