Experts Say Tupelo Tornado Stronger Than First Thought

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(Tupelo, MS) Wesley Webb didn’t come home, as much as he came to a pile of brick and wood.

He had a feeling he’d find a disaster.

”It probably took me about an hour and a half to two hours to get here and I’d seen pictures and people were texting me asking if I was ok. It’s kinda unbelievable”.

But not to expert meteorologists from the National Weather Service who arrived here to survey the damage and measure just how much of a whallop the Tupelo tornado packed.

Jim Belles says straight-line winds of up to 120 miles an hour can do much the same damage.

”Sometimes you’re looking at patterns there to try to determine whether it was one or the other. In this case it’s very clear-cut, no question, we have a significant tornado”.

Belles says residential areas tell the most about tornados, due to more expert study of their construction.

”Where is the roof”?

He says once a tornado rips off a roof, homes don’t stand a chance.

You know how forecasters always tell you to find an interior room to survive a tornado? Only a couple of walls remained where Webb's house once stood. It was what was left of the interior room of this home and provided the only chance here for anyone to survive the Tupelo tornado.

Early damage surveys suggested the Tupelo tornado rated an EF2 on a scale of five.

”We know we had at least EF2 down here and we were gonna have to come back today and knew there are some indications it could be stronger than that”.

Looking at Webb’s home, he found all he needed to know the Tupelo tornado had more strength than that.

”We really thing just at this point we’re certainly moving into more of the EF3 type damage”.

But in all, the storm only left one person dead in Lee County, something for which people here, remain grateful.

”I don’t look at it as a bad deal. I’m alive and all my family’s safe. That’s all that matters,” said Webb.

He says having a disaster plan helped save him, and probably thousands of others.