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Witnesses report tornado in Mississippi

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Tornado watch in effect for parts of northwestern Alabama
  • Law enforcement official reports tornado damage in Tupelo, Mississippi
  • Storm damages trees, power lines, overturns 18-wheeler on U.S. 45
  • No injuries reported in Mississippi town
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(CNN) -- A tornado swept through parts of Tupelo, Mississippi, on Thursday, damaging trees, power lines and overturning a 18-wheel truck, a law enforcement official said.


iReporter Graham Hancock saw damage Thursday at the Tupelo Furniture Market in Tupelo, Mississippi.

"Just a little earlier this morning, we began to get reports of damage starting from the west side of Tupelo," said Chief Deputy John Hall of the Lee County Sheriff's Department.

Hall said the storm moved north across the city to the Mall at Barnes Crossing. Nearby on U.S. 45, an 18-wheel truck was overturned, he said.

There were no reports of injuries, and Hall said authorities were assessing damages. Video Watch as a Tupelo resident describes the storm »

Jeff Snyder, general manager for the Mall at Barnes Crossing, said the shopping center sustained "minor property damage."

Terry Anderson, executive director of Tupelo Regional Airport, said the facility had minor damage, including some broken windows.

He said the airport was closed for about 10 minutes while the taxiway and runway were cleared. No flights were delayed, he said, and the airport is "up and running."

Mark Waddle, who works at the airport, said he saw the storm form.

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"It was real small at first," said Waddle, an employee at the airport's Budget Car Rental counter. "All the clouds were twirling around."

Waddle said he watched as the tornado touched down near the airport.

"It looked like it hit some kind of transformer because the whole sky lit up blue," he said. "Then it kind of blew through the Tupelo airport. ... It was blowing so hard the trees were touching the ground."

Waddle said he was not aware of any significant damage to the airport apart from overturned trash cans and debris in tree branches.

"All of the people and all the vehicles and everything are fine up here at the airport," he said.

Bobbye Jones, who works at the Mississippi Department of Transportation in Tupelo, said the roof blew off the lab at the agency.

She said fallen tree branches also had damaged vehicles outside her office.


"Everything just got real dark," Jones said. .

A tornado watch, which denotes favorable conditions for tornadoes, is in effect until late Thursday afternoon for parts of northwestern Alabama.

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