Storm forecast sends Relay for Life inside

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 23, 2010

Warren County’s 2010 Relay For Life is moving indoors to the Warren Central High School gym tonight in light of the severe weather — capable of producing golf-ball-sized hail and tornadoes — forecast to move over the Vicksburg area beginning this afternoon. 

“We just don’t want to jeopardize anyone’s safety,” event chairman Amy Burr said this morning. “Hopefully the worst of it will miss us.”

When Relay for Life activities kick off at 6, severe weather will already have likely moved into Warren and surrounding counties, said National Weather Service Meteorologist Jared Allen.

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“It looks like the front will be moving across the Mississippi River somewhere between 1 and 3 p.m. today,” Allen said. “This is going to be round one of two rounds of severe storms. There are going to be some torrential downpours associated with these storms, and the possibility of large hail up to golf-ball size, straight-line winds and tornadoes.”

A lull in severe weather likely will occur between 10 tonight and 4 Saturday morning, said Allen, followed by another strong front moving over the area around 6 a.m. Saturday — the same time overnight Relay for Life events are scheduled to close out.

“It will pretty much be an ongoing event through the afternoon hours on Saturday, with the severe weather threat tapering off in the Vicksburg area around 5 or 6 p.m.,” Allen said.

Up to 5 inches of rain is expected to fall over the area by Saturday evening, which could cause flash flooding. A weather advisory for much of the western portion of the state has been issued by the NWS — including Warren, Claiborne and Issaquena counties — and Allen said more specific storm warnings and watches will be announced as the system moves closer. 

“We’re anticipating the storms will pretty much encompass the area along and north of the Natchez Trace (Parkway) to start, and will eventually sweep over the entire state,” said Allen, who noted a partly-sunny forecast for the Vicksburg area on Sunday.

The 10th annual Relay for Life, which in years past has drawn in as many as 4,000 participants, had been scheduled to take place in the Warren Central stadium. Admission is $2 per person or $10 for a family of five or more. Burr said children 16 or younger must be accompanied by an adult, especially in light of the severe weather threat.

Live entertainment, food vendors, children’s activities and the walk will be open to the public through midnight. A luminaria ceremony is scheduled for 10 p.m.

The last time the NWS confirmed tornado touchdowns in the Vicksburg area was April 4, 2008. In that storm, one twister damaged 40 homes in the Eagle Lake community north of the city, and another ripped through fields between Vicksburg and Bovina, south of Interstate 20. No injuries were reported.

Contact Steve Sanoski at