A long-track, deadly tornado occurred on January 23, 1969. In his book, “The Tornado: Nature’s Ultimate Windstorm”, Thomas Grazulis notes that the process that brought about using the Fujita Scale to rate tornadoes can be traced to this event. (Grazulis, 2003). This tornado devastated the town of Hazlehurst, MS. It is the deadliest tornado on record (1950-current) in the month of January.
This twister was described by the NWS as “an extremely powerful, but compact tornado.” It was given a rating of F4 and was the strongest of the 13 that occurred across parts of the southern US on January 19, 1988.
In the early part of the path, the tornado damaged a home and a couple of sheds. It moved into a neighborhood with new, well-built homes. Five of the homes were severely damaged. Per the survey, some roofs were ripped off, walls were collapsed and a few homes were moved off their foundation. The tornado moved away from this area and onto the Caledonia school complex.
It set down the second time in the middle of a practice filed behind and west of R. H. Watkins High School. “It dug a hole in the center of the field, hit the west wall of the school building and caused an estimated $600,000 to $700,000 in damages.”