National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce



Event Summary

A strong upper level disturbance moved across the Central Plains on the morning of the 18th. As this system tracked east, the deep upper trough over the Central Plains became negatively tilted. The upper disturbance tracked east into the northern portions of the ArkLaMiss by the afternoon of the 18th. The combination of the negatively tilted trough over the Central Plains and strong upper disturbance brought very cold temperatures aloft over the region. A very warm airmass had been in place the previous few days with temperatures reaching the mid to upper 70s with some spots reaching even the low 80s on the 17th. Moisture was prevalent over the ArkLaMiss as dewpoints were running in the low 60s by the morning of the 18th with the cold front situated off to the northwest over southeast Arkansas and northern Mississippi. The combination of a warm and moist surface environment and very cold temperatures in the upper atmosphere led to a very unstable atmosphere. Strong wind shear also aided in the threat of severe weather development. The combination of all factors primed the region for a risk for the risk of large hail and a small possibility of tornadoes.

As the upper disturbance moved east on the morning of the 18th, a surface low tracked across northern Mississippi which began to slowly drag the cold front to the southeast over the region. The cold front served as a focus for thunderstorm development over southeast Arkansas and the cold front gradually aided in the development of thunderstorms. A squall line developed across the southeast Arkansas and moved quickly across north-central Mississippi over in the morning, producing multiple reports of damaging winds and ping-pong to golfball size hail. There were reports of multiple trees blown down, some roofs blown off buildings and wind gusts of 60-80 mph with a 77 mph wind gust measured at the Columbus surface observing station. A lone supercell moved into southeast Arkansas just after 1pm and showed many indications of very large hail and strong rotation. This storm gradually began making more of a right turn and continued to dive southeast into northeast Louisiana. This storm produced multiple reports of golfball to baseball size hail as it continued to dive to the southeast, which shattered windows out of some homes and vehicles. This storm gradually weakened as another storm began to develop just to the southwest over Morehouse Parish. The storm continued to move southeast and the southern edge of the storm began to develop supercell characteristics. This storm became the focus of activity as it began rapidly increasing intensity and showing all signs indicative of large hail. Ping pong to tennis ball size hail fell as the storm moved into northern Warren County, breaking numerous windows on vehicles near Redwood. Strong winds blew a tree on a house and caused a minor injury near Redwood. The long-lived supercell continued to move into a favorable environment and produced multiple reports of golfball to baseball size hail along its path into the Jackson metro area. The largest hailstone was softball size, or 4.25 inches, that fell in Clinton around 350pm, shattering vehicle windshields. One injury occurred in the Pinehaven community near Clinton when a baseball size hailstone fell onto a resident and caused head trauma. This supercell continued to move southeast over the downtown Jackson metro area with numerous reports of golfball to baseball size hail falling all along the path. The large hail from this supercell caused major roof damage, shattered windshields and caused dents in numerous vehicles and siding damage to multiple mobile homes in the Jackson metro area. The squall line in the northeastern Mississippi produced an outflow boundary that moved to the southwest and would serve as a focus of increased thunderstorm and supercellular development ahead of the storm moving into western Mississippi. Thunderstorms began increasing in intensity along the outflow boundary and numerous reports of large hail continued in a swath down into southern Mississippi. Reports of golfball to baseball size hail were received along a line from Seminary to Natchez and a few golfball size hail fell south of Columbia. As the actual cold front finally made its way through the I-20 corridor and south, additional hail fell during the evening. However, this hail was significantly smaller than what fell earlier, with sizes ranging from nickel to quarter size. Thunderstorms gradually moved out of the Pine Belt region late on the evening of the 18th.

The extremely large hail in a large populated region and widespread area affected with extreme hail damage will likely cause the figure of damages in dollars to be staggering. An elementary school in Clinton was damaged enough to have to close for the rest of the school year and many state and local law enforcement vehicles were highly damaged or totaled. The amount of damages to the Jackson metro area are staggering and will likely be an event to remember for years to come. The hailstone that fell in Clinton was the 3rd largest hailstone in March in Mississippi since 1950, only surpassed by grapefruit size hail that fell on March 30th, 1993 in Puckett, MS and on March 6th, 1996 in Laurel, MS. It was also the 7th largest hailstone to fall in Mississippi for any month, with the largest hailstone of 5.0 inches, or CD/DVD size, in Lafayette County on April 10th, 1962.



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