Schools let out early and precautionary measures were made by local emergency officials in Oktibbeha County on Monday as a potentially dangerous line of storms moved through the area.
While damage was reported across parts of Mississippi, the Golden Triangle was spared, with no damage reports coming in to the NOAA Storm Prediction Center by press time Monday.
Out of an abundance of caution, both the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District and Starkville Christian School dismissed students early.
Starkville Academy dismissed at its regular time, but all after school practices were cancelled.
Additionally, Mississippi State University, the Mississippi University for Women and East Mississippi Community College all closed campuses early in advance of the severe weather threat.
Oktibbeha County also stepped up its preparedness in opening the county’s new safe room on Lynn Lane for those seeking shelter.
The shelter is capable of holding 1,500 people and is in the final phases of its construction, with the actual grant requirements finished apart from of a few minor additions, according to Oktibbeha County Emergency Management Director Kristen Campanella. While the shelter does not yet have adequate seating, the county encouraged those using the shelter Monday to bring chairs if needed.
The nearly $2 million, 8,756-square-foot monolithic dome facility is capable of withstanding winds up to 250 mph.
As the day went on, Oktibbeha County and the rest of the Golden Triangle was placed under a Tornado Watch by the National Weather Service office in Jackson.
The area was never placed under a tornado warning as the storms moved through.
By 6:30 p.m., Campanella said the threat had subsided and no major damage was reported from the storm.
“We opened [the shelter] today because the risk was high for severe storms,” she said. “Fortunately, those storms went north and south of us but where it tracked, those areas had damage. We try to plan for the worst and hope for the best and this time it paid off. Special thanks to the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors, OSERVS and the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office for working so hard to get this opened so quickly today.”
Regular operations at area schools and universities were expected to continue on Tuesday.