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February 1971 Mississippi Valley tornado outbreak Date of tornado outbreak: February 21-22 1971 Duration1: ~32 hours Maximum rated tornado2: F5 tornado Tornadoes caused: 19 Damages: unknown Fatalities: 123 Areas affected: Southern and Southeastern United States 1Time from first tornado to last tornado 2Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita Scale The February 1971 Mississippi Valley tornado outbreak was a deadly tornado outbreak that struck portions of the Lower Mississippi River Valley and the Southeastern United States on February 21-22, 1971. The two-day outbreak which produced 19 tornadoes, killed 123 people across 3 states. The majority of the fatalities were caused by three violent tornadoes across western Mississippi and northeastern Louisiana. Contents 1 Outbreak summary 2 Tornado table 3 Confirmed tornadoes 3.1 February 21 event 3.2 February 22 event 4 External links 5 References 6 See also Outbreak summary Activity started early during the morning of February 21. The first tornadoes touched down in Texas east of Austin and north of Waco. The main activity intensified during the afternoon over the Mississippi River and Tennessee Valleys until the late evening hours. At around 3:00 PM CST a tornado touched down in Madison Parish, Louisiana and tore through a deadly 110 mile-path from south of Delhi near modern day Interstate 20 northeast through or near Delhi, Waverly, Alsatia and Transylvania before crossing the Mississippi River into the state of Mississippi. Then it affected areas in and around Mayersville, Inverness and Moorhead before dissipating. 47 people were killed by the tornado including 11 in Louisiana and 36 in Mississippi. In Inverness alone, 21 were killed while 200 others were injured. 150 buildings across the town were damaged or destroyed.[1]The Delhi tornado is the only official F5 to have hit the State of Louisiana since tornado records began in 1950. It is also the deadliest F5 tornado since the Candlestick Park Tornado that tore a 200-mile long path from Jackson, Mississippi to near Tuscaloosa, Alabama killing 58. It is also the seventh longest tornado ever in the state but the length figures includes travel distance from Louisiana.[2] Outbreak death toll State Total County County total Louisiana 11 Madison 11 Mississippi 110 Humphreys 32 Leflore 14 Sharkey 23 Sunflower 28 Warren 2 Yazoo 11 North Carolina 2 Cumberland 2 Totals 123 All deaths were tornado-related At around 4:00 PM CST, the deadliest tornado of the outbreak touched down just east of the Mississippi River near Fitler and just a few miles east of the F5 tornado that has path lengths varying from 160 to 200 miles long, the F4 tornado affected areas in and around Issaquena, Rolling Fork, Anguilla, Bellewood, Itta Bena (just west of Greenwood), and Oxford before dissipating just across the Tennessee State line. Most of its path was just a few miles east of the areas affected by the F5 tornado and several counties were affected by both tornadoes. With 58 fatalities, including 14 near Cary and 21 in Pugh City[3], this tornado is the deadliest tornado on record since the Udall, Kansas tornado during the 1955 Great Plains tornado outbreak where at least 80 were killed. It is also the deadliest tornado in Mississippi since 1950 surpassing the Candlestick Park Tornado in 1966 by one fatality (although one person was killed in Alabama).[4][5] However, the number of deaths is well short of the Tupelo-Gainesville tornado outbreak in 1936 where at least 230 were killed in a single F5 storm in Tupelo and the Great Natchez Tornado where over 300 were killed in Natchez in 1840. The tornado also had a similar path length as the 1966 storm but according to National Weather Service records, it is the second longest tornado path ever in the state.[2] Two other tornadoes in Mississippi killed at least 16 people in Yazoo, Warren and Sunflower Counties. The Yazoo County tornado is the 16th longest ever in Mississippi as it traveled for nearly 70 miles.[2] This outbreak is also one of the deadliest ever in the history of the state with 110 deaths. Most of the region was declared a disaster area by then-US President Richard Nixon. Additional tornadoes touched down on the following day from Indiana to the Carolinas, including one in the Columbus Metropolitan Area. 2 people in North Carolina were also killed by a 60-mile long tornado that started near the Fayetteville area. The entire outbreak is the second deadliest ever in February, behind only the Enigma tornado outbreak in 1884 and ahead of the 2008 Super Tuesday tornado outbreak. Tornado table Confirmed Total Confirmed F0 Confirmed F1 Confirmed F2 Confirmed F3 Confirmed F4 Confirmed F5 19 2 4 7 3 2 1 Confirmed tornadoes February 21 event F# Location County Time (UTC) Path length Damage Texas F2 Lacy-Lakeview area McLennan 1330 0.1 miles (0.16 km) F1 SW of Lincoln Lee 1415 0.3 miles (0.5 km) Louisiana F5 SW of Delhi, LA to S of Schlater, MS Madison, LA, East Carroll, Issaquena, Sharkey, Washington, Humphreys, Sunflower, Leflore 2050 109.2 miles (174.7 km) 47 deaths Arkansas F2 SW of Dermott to E of McGehee Drew, Desha 2100 17.1 miles (27.4 km) F2 S of Wynne St. Francis 2300 4.6 miles (7.4 km) Mississippi F4 S of Fitler, MS to SW of Middleton, TN Issaquena, MS, Sharkey, Humphreys, Leflore, Grenada, Marshall, Hardeman, TN 2200 202.1 miles (323.4 km) 58 deaths F4 S of Bovina to SW of Lexington Warren, Yazoo, Holmes 2306 65.2 miles (104.3 km) 13 deaths F3 N of Whitney Sunflower 2330 8.6 miles (13.8 km) 3 deaths F0 S of McRaven Hinds 0054 0.1 miles (0.16 km) F2 SW of Ashland Benton 0100 0.1 miles (0.16 km) F1 SW of Florence Rankin 0110 0.1 miles (0.16 km) F0 Brandon area Rankin 0135 0.1 miles (0.16 km) F2 NE of Pontotoc Pontotoc 0230 0.1 miles (0.16 km) Tennessee F2 SE of Selmer McNairy 0335 1.5 miles (2.4 km) Source: Tornado History Project - February 21, 1971 Storm Data February 22 event F# Location County Time (UTC) Path length Damage Indiana F1 SW of Greensburg Decatur 1800 9.1 miles (14.6 km) South Carolina F1 E of St. Matthews Calhoun 2120 11.9 miles (19 km) Ohio F2 SE of Pancoastburg Fayette, Pickaway 2125 2 miles (3.2 km) F3 Columbus area Franklin 2155 6.8 miles (10.9 km) North Carolina F3 Fayetteville Cumberland, Sampson, Greene, Edgecombe, Pitt 2230 85.7 miles (137.1 km) 2 deaths Source: Tornado History Project - February 22, 1971 Storm Data External links Full map of the 1971 Mississippi Valley tornado outbreak References ^ This Day in History 1971: Tornadoes move across Mississippi River Delta ^ a b c National Weather Service Forecast Office - Jackson, MS ^ The United State's Worst Tornadoes ^ http://www.tornadoproject.com/alltorns/mstorn.htmZ ^ Tornado history project See also List of North American tornadoes and tornado outbreaks