Mississippi woman is first tornado death this year

tornado Columbus Mississippi

COLUMBUS, Miss. (UPI) — A 41-year-old woman died after being caught in a building that collapsed in Mississippi, becoming the first tornado death in the United States this year.

The National Weather Service in Jackson, Miss., confirmed Saturday’s tornado by radar in Columbus, a city of about 24,000 people 50 miles west of Birmingham, Ala. The storm hit at about 5:15 p.m., destroying buildings and homes, and cutting off power, including to a TV station.

Ashley Glynell Pounds was one of four people in a building that was damaged, the Columbus Dispatch reported. She died during surgery, Lowndes County Coroner Greg Merchant told the newspaper.

At least five people were hospitalized with non life-threatening injuries, including one with a broken arm and another a broken leg.

WCBI-TV went off the air and instead broadcast via Facebook Live.

Dax Clark, a meteorology student at Mississippi State University, said he and some classmates sought shelter at a gas station as the tornado neared.

“We knew from the radar on our phones that the tornado was moving north of us, but the wind was still crazy,” Clark told Weather.com. “It did not hit our gas station directly but it was still pretty substantial.”

Clark described significant damage.

“We saw homes without roofs and outer walls, a car flipped over into a ditch and lots of trees and power lines down,” Clark said.

Besides destroying homes and business, the tornado damaged Hunt Intermediate School and Sim Scott Community Center, Joe Dillon, the city’s public information officer, told WTVA-TV.

The Jackson NWS dispatched a team to survey damage in Columbus in Lowndes County, which borders Alabama.

In addition, an unconfirmed tornado was father north in Burnsville, Miss., in Tishomingo County, bordering Alabama and Tennessee.

Reporting by Allen Cone

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