What we know about the deaths
Residents of central Mississippi woke up Saturday morning to a trail of destruction from deadly tornadoes overnight.
Dozens of people were reported killed or injured and the town of Rolling Fork, Mississippi, was essentially flattened by the storm, officials say.
On Friday evening, a severe storm swept northeast across much of Mississippi and Alabama. Rescuers were pouring into the area on Saturday morning, and the death toll could climb, according to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.
About 1,900 people live in the town of Rolling Fork, according to US census data. The town is part of Sharkey County, which has a population of less than 4,000.
‘MY CITY IS GONE’:Emergency officials report at least 23 dead in Mississippi tornadoes
How many people died in Mississippi tornadoes?
At least 23 people were killed, dozens injured and four missing following a wave of tornadoes, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency confirmed Saturday morning.
Where is Rolling Fork, Mississippi?
The small town of Rolling Fork is located approximately 60 miles northwest of Jackson in west-central Mississippi, near the Louisiana border and the Mississippi River.
Photos show damage from Mississippi tornadoes
How much damage did the Mississippi tornadoes cause?
Residents say the skyline they saw growing up in Rolling Fork is unrecognizable after the buildings were completely flattened.
Owners and employees of Chuck’s Dairy Bar in Rolling Fork survived the storm by huddled inside the restaurant’s walk-in refrigerator as winds scolded the metal structure, Tracy Harden told USA TODAY.
Harden and her husband bought the decades-old restaurant 16 years ago, and it was a hub for the Rolling Fork community, she said. By Saturday morning, the beloved gathering place had been completely destroyed and the only things left standing were the refrigerator and a bathroom, where another person hid to survive the tornado.
As of Saturday morning, more than 12,000 homes were without power in Mississippi, along with 18,000 in Alabama and 33,000 in Tennessee, according to poweroutage.us.
What do we know about the tornado?
Storm reports and radar data show the tornado remained on the ground for more than an hour, said Lance Perrilloux, a meteorologist with the Weather Service office in Jackson, Mississippi.
“It’s rare – very, very rare,” he said, attributing the wide path to widespread atmospheric instability. “All the ingredients were there.”
What’s the weather like in Mississippi?
Central Mississippi is expected to receive more rain on Sunday, with thunderstorms possible in the afternoon, according to AccuWeather.
Much of Alabama and Georgia face potentially damaging winds Saturday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.
Contributor: Associated Press; Christine Fernando, USA TODAY