Tornado slams northwest Jones County

By By Murray Tartt
special to The Star
March 16, 2002
A tornado appeared seemingly out of nowhere Friday night in Jones County, leaving a trail of damage from Lebanon Road to Springhill Road, about 4 miles northwest of Laurel.
West Jones Middle School and gym, a house and a trailer were destroyed.
No warnings were issued before the tornado touched down.
McKinnon said he called the National Weather Service in Jackson to ask why Doppler radar did not detect the storm. There is a ridge between Laurel and Jackson, McKinnon said, and Doppler radar cannot detect activity under that ridge.
In addition to the buildings at West Jones, McKinnon said, three residences in the Lebanon community were apparently destroyed but he stressed he was working from initial reports. More accurate damage estimates will be available today.
The touchdown in northwestern Jones County was the only confirmed tornado in the area, although warnings were issued for Jasper and Clarke counties.
Power lines and poles were downed in the Sharon area of Jones County, and the storm reportedly moved next toward Sandersville.
While authorities attempted to locate people and ensure residents were safe, Red Cross workers were mobilizing to assist victims, McKinnon said.
Mississippi Power serves West Jones High School and West Jones Middle School. Power company spokesman Kurt Brautigam said he knew of only a few nearby homes that were affected.
Murray Tartt is the news editor of the Laurel Leader-Call in Jones County.