Powerful thunderstorms swept through Mississippi and Alabama on the evening of March 24, 2023, producing multiple tornadoes. There were 20 reports of tornadoes across the two states on that day, according to the National Weather Service. Communities in western and central Mississippi were especially devastated by storms after two deadly tornadoes ripped through homes, businesses, and farmland.
Around 8 p.m. on March 24, a violent tornado touched down near Mississippi’s border with Louisiana. As it moved east through Rolling Fork, the tornado snapped trees, ripped roofs off houses, and toppled the town’s water tower. The tornado was a four on the Enhanced Fujita (EF) scale and had wind speeds of up to 170 miles (274 kilometers) per hour. It traveled almost 60 miles (97 kilometers) northeast and lasted more than an hour.
Shortly thereafter, another tornado touched down near Black Hawk, Mississippi, 56 miles (90 kilometers) northeast of Rolling Fork. The slightly weaker EF3 tornado flipped over cars, demolished mobile homes, and ripped through power lines with maximum winds of 150 miles (241 kilometers) per hour. The tornado carved a 29-mile (47-kilometer) long path east through Winona before ending near Kilmichael.
Much of the EF3 tornado’s track is visible in this satellite image captured the next day (March 25) by the Operational Land Imager-2 (OLI-2) on Landsat 9. The image below shows the tornado’s path as it moved through Winona. (The path of the EF4 tornado was outside of the view of Landsat 9.)
Heavy rain and storms continued to impact southern states through the evening of March 26 and into the morning of March 27. About 7 to 10 inches (18 to 25 centimeters) of rain fell on parts of Georgia and Alabama on March 26, and two tornadoes touched down near Montgomery, Alabama.
NASA Earth Observatory images by Lauren Dauphin, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Story by Emily Cassidy.