25 WEATHER — Social media is always buzzing with curiosity in the hours after a major tornado event, and it doesn't take long before the National Weather Service gets calls and tweets asking about the rating of a tornado that just occurred.
The truth is that a damage survey takes a long time to complete. First, the NWS actually has to send a crew to the site of the event. In the case of Rolling Fork, Mississippi, surveyors have to comb through dozens and dozens of damaged structures across many miles before coming to conclusions about the whole tornado. Naturally, it is a process that takes a while.
The survey for the Rolling Fork tornado is still preliminary, but new results have been published online. You can view the assessment from the NWS by following this link.
The link will take you to the Damage Assessment Toolkit. You can zoom in on Mississippi and look at all the damage surveyed so far for the Rolling Fork tornado. Each triangle along the 59-mile path corresponds to an indicator of damage that was examined and rated by the survey team. The color coding of the triangles corresponds to the EF-scale, with red triangles indicating EF4 damage.
Clicking on a triangle will reveal further information about that particular location, and in most cases will allow you to view a photo of the corresponding damage.
You may notice that some homes that were completely destroyed just southwest of town were rated EF2, though the first impression is that the damage looks much more extreme than that. That's because those homes in question were mobile homes and manufactured homes. It only takes winds of EF2 magnitude (up to 135 mph) to cause total destruction of a mobile home.
Thus far, the Rolling Fork tornado has been rated an EF4. 16 deaths and at least 15 injuries have been reported. Rolling Fork and a handful of other communities in Mississippi are unfortunately facing a long road to recovery.