The 2011 Smithville, Mississippi Tornado

An EF5 wedge tornado struck Smithville, MS, on April 27, 2011.

Jameson Steward
3 min readDec 17, 2023
A crushed red SUV from the Smithville, Mississippi tornado.
Original Image: By NWS Memphis —, Public Domain,

I lived in Smithville, Mississippi, from 2018 to 2021. The community of Smithville is full of good, friendly folks — so this first tornado hits pretty close to home for me.

The Smithville tornado was only one of the tornados during one of the worst tornado outbreaks in recorded U.S. history.

The April 2011 Tornado Outbreak.

There were 492 tornado reports between April 25, 2011, and April 29, 2011 — which was the largest tornado outbreak ever recorded.

Tornados affected the entire southeastern United States, with Mississippi and Alabama being hit especially hard.

All the tornado tracks from the April 2011 tornado outbreak.

More than 320 people were killed during the four-day tornado outbreak. Over $12 billion of damages were done by the deadly storms.

I remember April 26 and 27 being unlike anything I’d ever experienced. Living in north Mississippi most of my life, you always have to deal with storms and even tornado warnings.

I lived in Tupelo, Mississippi, during the April 2011 outbreak — about 45 minutes northwest of Smithville.

The Smithville, Mississippi Tornado.

The Smithville tornado began its track about 3 miles southwest of Smithville. It rapidly intensified to EF5 status — the strongest tornado rating — as it entered the town of about 1,000 people. It was the first time since 1966 that an EF5 tornado hit the state of Mississippi.

The path of the 2011 Smithville, MS tornado.

The destruction from the 2011 Smithville tornado was catastrophic.

  • Multiple well-built homes and sturdy structures were completely swept off their foundations — leaving nothing but the concrete slab.
  • A semi-truck was thrown 300 yards and destroyed.
  • An RV was thrown 250 yards and partially embedded in the ground.
  • Extensive ground scouring (as deep as one foot in some places) and debarking of trees.
  • An SUV was thrown half a mile into the Smithville water tower, bounced off it, and landed a fourth of a mile away (it’s the crushed SUV in the cover image).

The Smithville tornado destroyed 117 structures and damaged 50 others. Sixteen people were killed in Smithville. The tornado continued into Alabama, where it killed another seven people.

This video shows the lifespan of the 2011 Smithville tornado from start to finish.

One thing I noticed during my time in Smithville was how many storm shelters there were in the town. Even the new Smithville High School gym was a storm shelter.

As tragic as the 2011 Smithville tornado was, that community is better prepared now to protect their lives against another powerful tornado — if it ever comes.

The town of Smithville has bounced back in many ways — and has actually seen some growth in recent years. But the lives of everyone in Smithville were forever changed on April 27, 2011.

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