The tornado that caused widespread damage and destruction and injured dozens across the Hattiesburg, Miss. area on Sunday, was one of rare power, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).
NWS damage survey teams confirmed on Monday that a violent EF-4 tornado with winds up to 170 mph tore across Lamar and Forrest counties, before lifting as it entered Perry County on Sunday.
"The most intense damage occurred around the Oak Grove High School and to a housing area just southwest of that location. Here a well built brick home was leveled with other surrounding data supporting the low end EF-4 intensity rating," the NWS said.
The NWS said that they saw strong evidence that the tornado was for a time, a violent multiple-vortex tornado in Lamar County.
Additionally, multiple other locations along the damage path through West Hattiesburg and across the city, including across parts of the University of Southern Mississippi campus, were rated in the EF-3 range with winds up to 145 mph.
The NWS said this was only the second violent EF-4 tornado to impact Lamar County or Forrest County.
The other was the historic Purvis tornado on April 24, 1908, which was on the ground for 155 miles and impacted many parishes and counties across Louisiana and Mississippi. More than 140 people were killed along this tornado's track, making it one of the top deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history.
Estimates indicate that the powerful Hattiesburg tornado tracked on the ground for at least 20 miles, crossing portions of Lamar and Forrest counties as an EF-3 to EF-4 intensity tornado before lifting as it entered Perry County as a much weaker EF-1.
Miraculously, no one was killed as the tornado crossed the highly-populated Hattiesburg area but at least 82 were injured.
More details are expected to be released later on Tuesday on this tornado as damage surveys continue.