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2018 Meridian tornado
EF4 tornado (NWS)
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'
Date February 3, 2018
Times 1435 - 1505 CST
Touchdown location Outside of Meridian, Mississippi
Injuries 21
Fatalities 7
Damage $155 million
Areas affected In and around Meridian
Part of the
2018 tornado season

The 2018 Meridian tornado was a violent, deadly and destructive EF4 wedge tornado that occurred during the mid afternoon of February 3, 2018 during a larger outbreak, demolishing a large area of the town and killing 7 people in the process. Moving slowly towards the city, a tornado emergency was declared for the town, and the areas the twister effected were exposed to winds peaking at 185 mph for up to 5 minutes when the tornado was at its widest, prolonging the suffering for those in the horrific situation. The total damages from the tornado were $155 million, making it not only the strongest tornado to effect the area, but also the costliest as well.


Synopsis

The tornado was part of a larger outbreak that had begun the day before. Around 1400, a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for the town, which was upgraded to a Particularly Dangerous Situation tornado warning at 1315 as a large wall cloud began to tighten up into a large funnel. At 14 35, a large wedge tornado touched down, and a tornado emergency was issued for the town as the rapidly intensifying tornado slowly approached the town, inflicting catastrophic damage on buildings in its path, and causing extensive ground scouring in the process. At 1445, the tornado reached the town, and due to its slow motion, exposed most of the areas hit to 185 mph winds for 5 minutes in some cases, sweeping away buildings in the process. By 1455, the tornado had moved on, leaving devastation in its path, before weakening and dissipating by 1505 as it became wrapped up in dry air and low moisture contents.

Tornado emergency

At 1435 when the tornado touched down, a tornado emergency was declared for the town, with the warning issued stating "This is a life threatening situation. A large, dangerous and slow moving tornado has touched down just outside of Meridian, and is slowly moving towards town. Areas affected could be exposed to tornadic winds for long periods of time, with catastrophic damages expected as a result. Head down into an inside room, a storm cellar or below ground. If you are in a mobile home, evacuate to a safer location immediately, and if you are driving, avoid tight streets and overpasses. Large debris is already in the air, posing a life threatening situation to those in the path of the tornado.

Rating disputes

Due to the slow motion and size of the tornado, numerous structures were swpt away, and extensive ground scouring occurred in town, warranting an EF5 ranking by some survey teams. However, due to the slow motion of teh storm exposing all buildings swept away to tornadic winds for so long, an EF4 rating was applied as a result, though it is heavily disputed by most. A reanalysis of the event was held, with the tornado briefly having an EF5 rating for 22 days after the initial survey, until structural flaws were found in most of the buildings swept away, causing the tornado to be downgraded to a high EF4, which still remains disputed heavily.

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