A severe weather outbreak across several southern states Friday evening and Saturday morning produced at least one deadly tornado in Mississippi.
FOX News Channel confirmed at least 14 people are dead after the storm pummeled across the state Friday evening, destroying buildings and knocking out power for thousands of residents. Seven of those deaths were confirmed in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, and three were confirmed in Carroll County, Mississippi.
FOX Weather confirmed at least two people were injured, too. Those numbers are expected to rise.
The severe line of storms prompted a tornado emergency to be issued in a few towns, which is the most dire of tornado-related alerts. By definition, it warns that a “large and violent” tornado likely to cause significant widespread damage and numerous fatalities is on the ground.
Many areas across Mississippi experienced widespread damage, including the northeastern town of Amory, which is not too far from the Alabama state line.
Resident Holly Barnes shared a series of photos on Facebook with the caption, “Amory got hit, but we got out. Trying to get home if we still have one.”
First responder agencies in the hardest hit towns posted on social media asking drivers to stay away from the ravaged areas.
Amory’s police and fire departments shared the same statement shortly after the tornado passed through:
“Please stay home and do not attempt to drive through Amory. Emergency crews can not do their jobs to help get power back on and assess damage and perform rescue if they cannot access areas. Please be safe and stay in a secure location instead of driving through Amory!”
The first major tornado started in the town of Rolling Fork, FOX Weather reported, and continued 30 miles northeast through Silver City – first responder agencies report severe damage in both areas. Radar analysis indicated it was on the ground for about 80 miles and lifted debris at least 20,000 feet in the air during its destructive path.
Fred Miller, the former mayor of Rolling Fork, told FOX Weather much of the town has been destroyed.
“The west part of Rolling Fork is a residential area, and just a number of houses over there have been completely destroyed,” Miller said. “Highway 61, where most of our businesses are, all of the businesses on 61 have been completely destroyed. People are trapped in a couple of the eateries, and people are trying to get them out now.”
Brett Adair, FOX Weather’s field meteorologist who was chasing the storm, witnessed the twister enter Silver City.
“We had the drone up in the air and saw this massive tornado coming in, probably 5 or 6 miles away, and then just watched numerous explosions as it came across the highway here in Silver City.”
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said the state activated medical support following the outbreak and tweeted the following statement:
“Many in the MS Delta need your prayer and God’s protection tonight. We have activated medical support—surging more ambulances and other emergency assets for those affected. Search and rescue is active. Watch weather reports and stay cautious through the night, Mississippi!”
As of 5 a.m., nearly 17,600 people were without power across Mississippi, according to PowerOutage.us.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.