Tornado warnings expire, damage reported in Covington area

By , Daily Memphian Updated: April 01, 2023 7:10 AM CT | Published: March 31, 2023 4:41 PM CT

This story is free access as a public service.

The tornado warning and severe thunderstorm warning in southeast Shelby County both expired late Friday, March 31, as a round of storms pushed east.

More than 30,000 Memphis Light, Gas and Water customers were without power as the warnings expired. Customers can call 544-6500 to report power outages and 528-4465 to report emergencies like downed power lines. 

The Memphis Fire Department reported large trees and wires down in Memphis but said no injuries have been reported. 

For the first time in more than two years, NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center issued a rare “high risk” forecast for Memphis Friday afternoon. It’s one of the most urgent warnings the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration can give hours ahead of a severe weather outbreak.

A tornado tore through parts of the Little Rock, Arkansas, metro area Friday afternoon, prompting the National Weather Service to issue to a “tornado emergency,” meaning a life-threatening tornado is moving into a populated area.

Just before 5 p.m., the National Weather Service issued another rare “tornado emergency” for Arkansas counties about 30 miles west of Memphis, and it has since been confirmed that two people died during a tornado in Wynne, Arkansas, about an hour west of Memphis. 

St. Francis County Coroner Miles J. Kimble told the AP by phone Friday night that he was assisting the Cross County coroner in Wynne and that two people died there in the tornado.

The governor at a briefing with Little Rock officials Friday night said it was possible the number of deaths could rise.

City Councilmember Lisa Powell Carter told AP that the town Wynne was without power and roads were full of debris.

“I’m in a panic trying to get home, but we can’t get home,” she said. “Wynne is so demolished. ... There’s houses destroyed, trees down on streets.”

Tornado slams Little Rock, smashes rooftops, flips vehicles

The unrelenting tornadoes continued spawning and touching down in the area into the night.

The police department in Covington, Tennessee, said on Facebook that the west Tennessee city was impassable after power lines and trees fell on roads when the storm passed through Friday evening.

Authorities in Tipton County said a tornado appeared to have touched down near the middle school in Covington and in other locations in the rural county.

Tipton County Sheriff Shannon Beasley said on Facebook that homes and structures were severely damaged.

(The Associated Press contributed to this article.)


NOAA National Weather Service
Keely Brewer

Keely Brewer

Keely Brewer is a Report for America corps member covering environmental impacts on communities of color in Memphis. She is working in partnership with the Ag & Water Desk, a sustainable reporting network aimed at telling water and agriculture stories across the Mississippi River Basin.


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