'Extremely dangerous' tornado hits northeastern Mississippi

Yuliya Talmazan and Joe Studley and Caroline Radnofsky

A “large and extremely dangerous tornado” touched ground in northeastern Mississippi late Sunday as severe weather rolled through the region.

Residents in at least two towns in the areawere waking up to damaged buildings and downed power lines after the National Weather Service in Memphis issued a string of tornado warnings.

The “large and extremely dangerous tornado” was on the ground in Sandy Springs in Itawamba county at around 10:30 p.m. local time (11:30 ET), the Weather Service said as it warned residents to take cover in what it called “a life-threatening situation.”

There was no immediate information about what damage or injuries the tornado may have caused to the town.

The weather service also urged residents in Tupelo, about 23 miles southwest of Sandy Springs, and the surrounding area in neighboring Lee county to shelter because of a “damaging tornado” moving across the city.

“Tornado emergency for Tupelo!” it tweeted. “Take cover now!”

Social media images from Tupelo showed roofs of many homes and buildings blown away, power lines and trees downed, and streets swamped with debris. The city's mayor’s office did not report any injuries or deaths.

It said damage has been reported and emergency crews were out assessing it.

“Please do not get out and drive,” the office warned in a Facebook post. “It is dangerous — there are reports that power lines are down in the roads.”

Earlier on Sunday, the office warned that the city was in “the path of a powerful storm,” and storm shelters were being opened.

“Please be in your tornado safe space!” Tupelo mayor Jason Shelton urged on Facebook.

There was also damage reported in Calhoun City, approximately 40 miles southwest of Tupelo.

A third of the town is without power, according to the county sheriff. Several people were trapped in their homes, Sheriff Greg Pollan told NBC News, and first responders had to extricate them. But there were no reports of injuries, he said.

NBC affiliate WTVA in Tupelo also reported damage in Pontotoc County.

The National Weather Service in Jackson also shared social media reports of tornadoes near Yazoo City and Byram earlier in the day.