SPC Stats

Path length: 13.57 miles

Width:  440 yards

Fatalities:  0

Injuries:  8

Rating:  EF3

County:  Lafayette

Tornado Path

SPC coordinates:  34.2084 / -89.5653    End:  34.3299 / -89.3785

Corrected coordinates Based on Analysis of Aerial and Satellite Imagery:

Start:  34.201461 / -89.581877    End: 34.364388 / -89.333105 

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

Summary

The farthest northwest EF3 tornado in the Super Outbreak, this obscure event caused major destruction in areas south and east of Oxford. The hardest-hit area was the community of Pine Flat.

This tornado began 4.9 miles south of Taylor at 1:36 pm CDT. It moved northeast, leaving a trail of uprooted trees. By the time it crossed Pleasant Ridge Road 2.7 miles after starting, the twister was 1,000 yards (0.57 miles) wide and growing.

The tornado plowed through several miles of forest and then strengthened as it crossed into the community of Pine Flat. It reached a maximum width here of 1,940 yards (1.1 miles). Several neighborhoods were heavily impacted, with a few homes losing their roofs and exterior walls. Trees just beyond the community were partially debarked, and cars were hurled and smashed. The tornado also scraped by the Pine Flat United Methodist Church, which escaped with only minor damage.

A car that was crushed in Pine Flat. Note the flattened and debarked forest in the background. Image from the North Central MS Medical Reserve Corps.
Google Street View imagery from May of 2014, showing destroyed forest along Pine Flat Road three years later.

Based on the extensive blowdown of forest, the tornado remained relatively stable in terms of size and intensity for another five miles. Just after crossing County Road 334, it began to shrink and weaken. The tornado was two-thirds of a mile wide when it hit several structures along I-278, eight miles ESE of Oxford. The roof was ripped off a brick home, and an exterior wall collapsed. A few other residences were damaged.

A multi-vortex treefall pattern southeast of Oxford. Image via Google Earth imagery taken October 27, 2012.

The weakening vortex only snapped and uprooted trees over the remaining 4.2 miles of its life. It would dissipate at 1:57 pm CDT 10.6 miles east of Oxford, after a 21 minute and 18.2 mile track. 17 homes were destroyed, and roughly another 100 sustained some form of damage. The total cost was estimated at around $1.5 million. There were eight injuries but no fatalities.

Volunteers distributing supplies near Pine Flat. Image from the North Central MS Medical Reserve Corps.

While this tornado tracked through the southern and eastern edges of Oxford, most of the damage was concentrated in the Pine Flat Community. Of those who lost everything from the event, a few decided to relocate from Pine Flat after the disaster. However, most chose to stay and rebuild.

The Pine Flat United Methodist Church survived the event with only minor damage. In the days and weeks after the tornado, it was a rallying point for those impacted. Gene Bramlett was the pastor of this church. In an article from the Oxford Eagle, he stated, “People just started turning up to the church and whoever needed what, we tried to get it. There were no solid plans. No real logistics to it or any real supplies. But it all fell into place. People started stepping up to become leaders. Food was prepared at the church, even when we didn’t have electric. People brought clothing and other relief supplies. We had one rule… whatever someone needed, if you had it, you gave it to them and if we didn’t have it, we found it.”

Images

Radar of the tornado at peak intensity. Image via GR2 Analyst.
Intense vegetation damage caused by the tornado in Pine Flat. Image from the North Central MS Medical Reserve Corps.
A home that was destroyed in Pine Flat. Image from the North Central MS Medical Reserve Corps.
The interior of the same house. Image from the North Central MS Medical Reserve Corps.
Heavily damaged trees in Pine Flat. Image from the North Central MS Medical Reserve Corps.

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 13.57 miles.
  • The NWS Memphis lists a path length of 13.69 miles.
  • Analysis of the damage indicates an 18.2 mile track.

    Path Width:

    • The SPC/NCDC/SDP/NWS Memphis list a maximum width of 440 yards (1/4 of a mile).
    • Analysis of the damage indicates a maximum width of 1,940 yards (1.1 miles).

      A before and after GIF using 2010 and 2011 Landsat imagery in Google Earth. Even with the exclusion of minor rear flank downdraft (RFD) damage along the southern side of the track, the maximum width of the tornado shown in the orange polygon (1,940 yards) far exceeds the 440 yards listed by official sources.

      Sources:

      The Storm Prediction Center

      April 2011 Storm Data Publication

      NCDC Storm Events Database Entry-Lafayette County

      NWS Memphis Event Summary

      Google Earth

      Taking Shelter from the Storm; Building a Safe Room for your Home or Small Business

      North Central MS Medical Reserve Corps

      ADDINGTON, M 2012, ‘Residents rebuild after storm – Looking Back: Deadly day recalled one year later – Tornado Recovery’, Oxford Eagle, The (MS), 25 Apr, p. 1, (online NewsBank).

      Schnugg, A 2016, “Pine Flat Remains a Strong Community.” The Oxford Eagle, 10 Jan. Newspapers.com. www.oxfordeagle.com/2016/01/10/pine-flat-remains-a-strong-community/

      Castens, E 2011, ‘Lafayette County: Storms affect more than 300 structures’, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo, MS), 3 May, (online NewsBank).

      Questions or comments about this summary?  Contact us here!

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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.

      Newspaper clips are embedded via newspapers.com.  Please see their terms and conditions.


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