National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce


Lamar and Forrest County Tornado

 Click on map above to see entire event tracks and damage point notation


Event Summary

The tornado started along Highway 589, where some limbs and small trees were downed. It became intense rather quickly, producing significant damage as it moved through the West Lake Serene area. The tornado reached its maximum intensity in the area around and just southwest of Oak Grove High School. There was a brick home in a subdivision southwest of the high school, just west of old Highway 11, that was completely leveled with all interior and exterior walls down, and a fair amount of large debris was blown downstream. Additionally, very high end timber damage occurred in this location with a number of trees showing debarking and denuding. Several other homes in this subdivision also sustained EF-2 to EF-3 damage. As the tornado crossed old Highway 11, it produced extensive damage on the campus of Oak Grove High School. The field house adjoining the football stadium was destroyed, the baseball stadium and a large metal building adjoining the stadium were essentially destroyed, and several large steel/concrete light standards were snapped at both the baseball and football stadiums. A vehicle was thrown from the parking lot adjoining the baseball stadium, up a small hill and was deposited near the pitching mound in the middle of the baseball field. The main building of the high school also suffered some roof damage.

(Click for EF Scale)
Estimated Maximum Wind: 170 mph
Casualties: 0 deaths; 82 injuries
Damage Path Length: 21 miles
Maximum Path Width: 0.75 mile
Approximate Start Point/Time:

8.5 NNW Purvis
5:03 pm

Approximate End Point/Time:

3 ESE Macedonia in Perry Co.
5:36 pm

The tornado then moved northeast into the heavily populated areas of Oak Grove and West Hattiesburg, including areas along Lincoln Road Extension, Weathersby Road, Oak Grove Road, and the area just south of Highway 98 along Clark, Lamar and Foxgate Avenues. Numerous homes were destroyed or suffered major damage, and a few homes showed evidence of high end EF-3 type damage. Dozens of power poles were snapped, extensive tree damage occurred. Video evidence and ground survey damage appeared to indicate that the tornado was multi-vortex in nature during its Lamar County portion. Just before crossing Interstate 59, it caused significant roof damage to a number of apartment buildings just west of the interstate. In total in Lamar county, preliminary estimates from emergency management indicate that 51 homes were destroyed and 170 suffered major damage. There were 8 reported injuries, 2 of which were critical.

The tornado moved into Forrest County just to the south of Hardy Street damaging numerous homes with the damage in the EF-2 and EF-3 category. It then crossed Hardy Street impacting the southeast corner of the University of Southern Mississippi campus. Numerous buildings were damaged in this area including several campus buildings and a large church. Numerous power poles were downed in this area and several medal traffic lights were bent and torn off their bases. Damage in this area was also EF-2 and EF-3.

The tornado continued across Highway 49 impacting multiple neighborhoods. Numerous roofs were blown off houses and many trees fell on houses and vehicles. The tornado crossed north Main Street causing significant damage to the Red Cross building and the Girl Scouts building and bending large metal poles at the Hattiesburg High School athletic fields. The tornado then moved across east 7th Street causing significant damage to several large brick buildings. Damage in the area between north Main Street and east 7th avenue was in the high end EF-3 range with maximum winds around 160 mph.

The tornado continued into Petal with the most significant damage occurring to a Tru-Value hardware store on south Main Street. Numerous homes in the vicinity of the hardware store also had roofs torn off and exterior walls collapsed. This damage was also rated high end EF-3 with maximum winds around 160 mph.

The tornado began to weaken as it crossed the Evelyn Gandy Parkway to the northeast of Petal. Damage in this area was mainly EF-1 and EF-2 and consisted of roof damage and snapped trees. The tornado strengthened one last time as it moved through a neighborhood just off Twin Lakes Road. Numerous well built homes experienced EF-2 damage to the roofs in this neighborhood. The tornado weakened as it approached the Perry County line and dissipated a couple of miles into Perry County. Damage at the end of the track was in the EF-0 to EF-1 range.

In total in Forrest County, preliminary estimates from emergency management indicate that 133 homes were destroyed and 207 suffered major damage. There were 63 reported injuries.

This is the second violent tornado to impact Lamar and Forrest counties in our records. The other violent tornado was the infamous Purvis tornado on April 24 1908. This tornado was on the ground for 155 miles and impacted many parishes/counties across Louisiana and Mississippi. In total 143 people were killed by this tornado, including 60 in Lamar County and 4 in Forrest County.


Radar Imagery

Thanks to recent dual-pol upgrades at area Doppler radar sites, we could also confirm the presence of tornadic debris. Here is a screen capture from the Mobile, AL radar at 5:13 pm as the tornado was moving through the West Hattiesburg/Oak Grove area. The more traditional radar products shown at the top (base reflectivity, storm relative velocity) were showing a severe thunderstorm, with strong and tight rotation at just over 7,000 feet above the ground. It was the dual-pol products on the bottom of this image that provided additional confirmation that this rotation must have been extending to the ground. The correlation coefficient (CC) product in the bottom-right helps to provide an idea of the consistency of the shape of the targets being reflected back to the radar. Higher values shows greater consistency (for instance, all rain), while lower values show less consistency (a mixture of targets). In this image we see an area of lower CC, which is actually an indication of tornadic debris of various shapes and sizes. In addition, the differential reflectivity product indicated values close to 0, which would also be expected with tornadic debris. Dual-pol continues to prove to be a powerful tool in our arsenal of technology enabling us to track severe weather.

Dual Pol Radar - Lamar County Tornado