SPC Stats

Path length: 9.28 miles

Width:  150 yards

Fatalities:  0

Injuries:  1

Rating:  EF2

County:  Tishomingo

Tornado Path

SPC coordinates:  Start: 34.4683 / -88.2808    End:  34.5559 / -88.1572

Corrected coordinates Based on Analysis of Aerial and Satellite Imagery:

Start: 31.521446 / -96.536702     End: 31.530005 / -96.532366 

Note:  Exact tornado path may not be straight and/or continuous.

Summary

One of the more obscure early morning tornadoes of April 27, 2011, tore through the community of Belmont, MS. Striking in the dead of night, it caught many residents completely off guard.

A weak tornado formed at 3:43 am CDT, starting 5.1 miles SW of Belmont at the intersection of County Roads 864 and 9. The tornado moved northeast and left only a vague trail of sporadically uprooted trees. It remained in this weakened state over a 4.5-mile period before crossing out of rural forest into western portions of Belmont. Trees were sent crashing onto homes in a neighborhood just off of Washington Street. The tornado began to rapidly strengthen and destroyed a high school baseball field, tearing metal poles out of the ground.

Just to the northeast, another neighborhood was struck at EF1 intensity. Most homes avoided more than the loss of some windows and shingles, but a handful were more substantially damaged by falling trees. In addition, one wall of another home collapsed. A mobile home was tumbled 20 yards off of Ebenezer Street. A man inside sustained minor injuries.

Fortunately, none of the residential areas experienced the worst of the tornado. This was especially important for several reasons. It was 3:48 am CDT, and many were sound asleep. No tornado warning was issued, and even if there had been a warning, many residents did not keep a method of receiving weather alerts when asleep. By the time many were awoken by the noise and scrambled for shelter, the tornado was already gone.

The tornado crossed 2nd Street and briefly strengthened to a high-end EF2. A corner of a metal-framed industrial building was flattened, and two others lost most of their roofs. A large, wood-framed building belonging to Red Bud Supply was completely destroyed, with only a couple of walls left standing. Adjacent trees were largely stripped of foliage and delimbed. Several other nearby buildings sustained minor roof damage. Just east of the businesses along Old Mississippi 25, one person was trapped in a vehicle by a falling tree. Since the tornado struck at night, there was no one inside any businesses when the tornado hit.

The front of a Red Bud Supply building that was destroyed. Image from Storm Data.

The twister immediately weakened after it exited the north side of Belmont. It spent the remaining 3.6 miles of its track as a weak EF0 over sparsely populated farmland and forested areas. Only a couple of residences sustained minor damage and a few trees were uprooted. The tornado dissipated just after crossing County Road 993 four miles northeast of Belmont.

A total of 30 homes, several apartment buildings, the town of Belmont’s maintenance yard, and a few other structures received major damage across a 9.18 mile path and an 11 minute lifespan. One mobile home and a high school baseball field were totaled, and two commercial buildings were completely destroyed. Damage costs were at least $500 thousand.

Belmont was able to quickly recover from the storm. With the aid of more than 500 volunteers, debris was rapidly removed from streets and yards. Most of the damage was able to be repaired without much issue. The hardest hit business was the Red Bud Supply, which was owned by Mark Chumbley. In an article by the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Mark stated, “We were very blessed. I thank the good Lord that everything is as well as it is. With lots of help from the community we got most of our stock moved, about 90 pallets. People have donated free labor to help us get back up, but we’re not there yet. The people in Smithville are hurting a lot worse than we are. The things we lost can be replaced.”

While researching this tornado, I came across photographs from John Maroon, who had lived two miles from where the tornado passed. After reaching out for permission to feature the images, he kindly shared his memories of the event. John had been awoken by the noise of the storm and gone outside. He could hear a roaring sound from where the tornado would pass but had no idea there was actually a tornado in town. He went back to sleep and, later that morning, drove past the damage. John said it was surreal and shocking, like nothing the town had ever seen before.

The impact on Belmont could have been far worse. Had the tornado struck during the day, dozens of people could have been inside the industrial buildings that were destroyed. If the EF2 winds had occurred just a few seconds earlier than they did, it would have been occupied residences and not vacant businesses that were destroyed.

Damage Pictures from John Maroon

A Red Bud Supply building that was destroyed.
An industrial building that was torn up.
Another industrial building that was heavily damaged.
The inside of a destroyed business.
Sheet metal tossed about by the tornado.
Several trees that were heavily delimbed and defoliated.
A shed that was knocked over.
A mobile home that was tumbled 20 yards.
A tree that was knocked onto a home.
A grove of snapped and uprooted trees.

Video

Discrepancies:

We gathered information for this event from the SPC and NCDC Databases, the April 2011 Storm Data Publication (SDP), the NWS Memphis Event Page, and analysis of aerial and satellite imagery and found the following differences:

Path Length:

  • The SPC/NCDC/SDP list a path length of 9.28 miles.
  • The NWS Memphis lists a path length of 9.29 miles.
  • Analysis of the damage indicates a 9.18 mile track.

    Path Width:

    • The SPC/NCDC/SDP/NWS Memphis list a maximum width of 150 yards.
    • Analysis of the damage indicates a maximum width of 690 yards.

      Sources:

      The Storm Prediction Center

      April 2011 Storm Data Publication

      NCDC Storm Events Database Entry-Tishomingo County

      NWS Memphis Event Summary

      Google Earth

      John Maroon

      Mitchell, L 2011, ‘Belmont digs out after storm’, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo, MS), 5 May, (online NewsBank).

      Mississippi Daily Journal, N 2011, ‘WEATHER UPDATES: Power returning to NEMS areas’, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo, MS), 28 Apr, (online NewsBank).

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      Note:  There are some images/videos in our summaries that were licensed to us to be used only on this website. If you would like to use an image/video in your project or blog, please contact us and we will grant permission if possible.

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