Mississippi meteorologist breaks down over tornado hit

A Mississippi meteorologist broke down on air while reporting the news of an emerging tornado that swept through the region killing at least 26 people.

Matt Laubhan, the chief meteorologist for local network WTVA, appeared to struggle to contain his emotions as he told the views that the town of Amory was going to take the direct hit.

Amory is a small town with a population of just over 6,000.

Mr Laubhan told viewers that as much as they “trust him”, he wasn’t sure how the storm would pan out.

"Oh man, north side of Amory, this is coming in," he said late on Friday night.

"Oh, man. Dear Jesus, please help them. Amen," he prayed, as updates of the tornado’s movements came in.

The powerful tornado pummelled the town of Rolling Fork in Mississippi on Friday night, leaving at least 26 people dead, several missing and a trail of destruction.

One man was killed after his trailer home flipped several times in Alabama.

The twister flattened entire blocks, obliterated houses, ripped a steeple off a church and toppled a municipal water tower. Even with recovery just starting, the National Weather Service warned of a risk of more severe weather.

Preliminary information based on estimates from storm reports and radar data indicate the tornado was on the ground for more than an hour and traversed at least 170 miles, said Lance Perrilloux, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Jackson, Mississippi, office.

“That’s rare — very, very rare,” he said, attributing the long path to widespread atmospheric instability.

Mississippi governor Tate Reeves on Saturday declared a state of emergency after the storm system tore through Rolling Fork and Silver City before smashing into Winona and Amory and Alabama. The massive supercell storm also brought hail the size of golf balls.

Rolling Fork mayor Eldridge Walker said that his “city is gone” after buildings and homes were obliterated.

“How anybody survived is unknown by me,” said Rodney Porter, who lives 20 miles south of Rolling Fork.

When the storm hit Friday night, he immediately drove there to assist in any way he could. Porter arrived to find “total devastation” and said he smelled natural gas and heard people screaming for help in the dark.

“Houses are gone, houses stacked on top of houses with vehicles on top of that,” he told the Associated Press.

President Joe Biden on Sunday approved an emergency declaration for Mississippi. Mr Biden ordered federal aid to supplement state, tribal and local recovery efforts in the affected areas, a White House statement said.

The funding will be available to affected people in the counties of Carroll, Humphreys, Monroe, and Sharkey, it added.