Mississippi Valley Tornado Outbreak

The February 1971 Mississippi Valley tornado outbreak was a deadly tornado outbreak that struck portions of the Lower Mississippi River Valley and the Southeastern United States on February 21-22, 1971.

The two-day outbreak which produced 19 tornadoes, killed 123 people across 3 states. The majority of the fatalities were caused by three violent tornadoes across western Mississippi and northeastern Louisiana. The outbreak is the second deadliest outbreak since the Palm Sunday tornado outbreak of 1965 before the Super Outbreak of 1974.

On this day in 1971, the Mississippi River Delta is pounded by powerful tornadoes that kill more than 100 people. The storm that caused the twisters moved up from the bayous of Louisiana through Mississippi to Tennessee. Hundreds of people were injured across the three states.

One of the worst tornadoes that struck on February 21 was an F4 category twister--with winds of between 207 and 260 mph--that hit Madison Parish, Louisiana, at about 2:50 p.m. Forty-six people lost their lives as the tornado moved several miles northeast to the town of Waverly. The dead included 10 family members who lived near the community of Delhi. Witnesses reported that the twirling winds dumped many of the bodies into the bayou.

The Mississippi Delta was dealt a blow by three major tornadoes. In Louisiana and Mississippi 119 lives were lost and over 1000 were injured.

It was a busy day in weather history on this date in 1971. An unusually powerful storm system caused an tornado outbreak and blizzard to occur simultaneously in the U.S.. An outbreak of tornadoes hit northeastern Louisiana and northern and central Mississippi. The first major tornado touched down that day at about 2:50 pm in Louisiana and crossed into Mississippi. 46 people were killed by this twister, which struck the towns of Dehli and Inverness. Overall, 24 twisters were reported with one F5 tornado reported in East Carroll Parish. The tornadoes claimed up to 121 lives, including 110 in Mississippi. There were as many as 1,600 injuries, 900 homes destroyed or badly damaged and total damage was $32 million dollars. Three tornadoes rated as F4’s accounted for most of the deaths and destruction.