Louisiana on ‘high alert’ as possible tornado kills 2
Louisiana’s governor put the state on “high alert” as severe storms and possible tornadoes hit the area, killing two people in a small Louisiana town Sunday. The storms threatened to spread heavy rains, damaging winds and potential tornadoes across much of the Southeast deep into Monday, authorities said.
Gov. John Bel Edwards warned residents to stay off the roads and urged them to keep their cellphones charged and close by so that they could get severe weather alerts throughout Sunday night and Monday morning.
“It is an extremely dangerous weather event,” he said.
Parts of Arkansas and Mississippi were also under a threat of tornadoes, but the bullseye was on Louisiana, where the system brought unconfirmed tornadoes, heavy thunderstorms, large hail and flash flooding.
The St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana said a possible tornado slammed through Breaux Bridge, flipping a mobile home and killing a 38-year-old woman and her 3-year-old daughter. The storm roared near but did not damage several other homes and a high school, Maj. Ginny Higgins said.
“It was a tragedy that could have been even worse,” Higgins told USA TODAY. “We are very much on edge. I hate the spring because we always have these awful storms.”
Typically after such damage, the National Weather Service will investigate and determine if the damage was caused by a tornado or so-called “straight-line winds.” Edwards said such winds destroyed the mobile home.
The weather service warned that it was a “particularly dangerous situation,” which the governor noted was a rare high-level warning. Straight line winds could reach upward of 80 mph.
Breaux Bridge, which promotes itself as the crawfish capital of the world, is a city of about 10,000 people 50 miles west of Baton Rouge. Lafayette, La., 10 miles southwest of Breaux Bridge, was hit with hail Sunday, and the weather service was predicting strong winds and up to 3 inches or more of rain into Monday.
Frank Strait, senior meteorologist with AccuWeather, said the system rolled out of central Texas early Sunday, with a tornado touching down Center Point. The National Weather Service warned that severe thunderstorms “capable of strong tornadoes, extensive wind damage and very large hail” were forecast Sunday into Monday from eastern Texas to the Gulf Coast area. Heavy rainfall could also lead to flash flooding, the weather service said.
The severe weather threat will shift farther east on Monday, Strait said. Tornadoes and damaging winds are likely from southern Mississippi all the way into South Carolina. The greatest tornado risk was centered over southern Alabama. Damaging winds are anticipated throughout much of the region.
Even then, still no rest for the weary, Strait warned. More storms could hit the region Wednesday and Thursday.
“Unfortunately, as we get rid of this storm it looks like we will just reload,” he said. “And it could involve tornadoes. April is prime storm season, I’m afraid.”
Edwards, the Louisiana governor, said the storm was “likely to be an all-night event. We don’t expect the weather system to leave the state of Louisiana until sometime tomorrow morning.”