A severe thunderstorm outbreak has affected areas from Louisiana to Kentucky to Florida. Several tornadoes have been reported in Southeast Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. This includes a probable EF-3 tornado affecting the East New Orleans area, according to media reports. Significant property damage has been reported for several areas, with especially severe impacts for the East New Orleans tornado. Downed trees and powerlines with light to moderate property damage have been reported for affected areas of the Florida Panhandle. At least 36 injuries and one fatality have been reported in the media. Rescue and damage survey operations are ongoing, and it is too early to ascertain the full scope and severity of this event. Our first thoughts and concerns are with those directly affected by this event.
Yesterday, a robust environment to produce severe weather was in place over the Lower Mississippi Valley. The environment consisted of very moist and unstable air, together with changing wind speed and direction with height. The mechanics of an approaching, potent upper-level disturbance initiated severe thunderstorms in this environment. Several supercell thunderstorms developed, some of which produced large hail and tornadoes. This includes a probable EF-3 tornado affecting the East New Orleans area, according to media reports. The thunderstorms then organized into a squall line to produce clustered nontornadic wind gusts across the Florida Panhandle and adjacent states, as well as Northeast Florida. The U.S. National Weather Service will be conducting ground surveys of affected sites, and then use their findings to confirm tornado tracks and assign intensity ratings.
New Orleans Preliminary Tornado Footprint; U.S. National Weather Service (Slidell).
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It is too early to determine the full scope of impacts from the event, as rescue and damage survey efforts continue for affected areas. Tornado reports have affected areas of Mississippi, Florida and Louisiana, with especially severe impacts in the East New Orleans area. Clustered hail reports of one inch diameter or more have affected areas of Central Mississippi. Clustered nontornadic wind gusts of 58 mph or more have been reported across the Florida Panhandle and Northeast Florida, rendering downed trees and powerlines with some structural damage. At least 36 injuries have been reported thus far. One fatality has been reported in Calhoun County, Florida, as a result of a downed tree. Nontornadic wind gusts have also affected areas of Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia.
The State of Louisiana was affected by reported tornadoes affecting Livingston, Tangipahoa, Ascension and Orleans Parishes. This includes a probable EF-3 tornado affecting the East New Orleans area, according to media reports. The tornadoes have rendered variable property damage as well as snapped power poles and vehicle damage.
Property damage in the New Orleans east area has been especially severe, both to homes and businesses. Media reports indicate a probable path two miles long and half a mile wide affecting an area of about 5,000 properties. Preliminary reports indicate at least 60 homes and businesses damaged. At least 25 injuries have been reported.
Media reports indicate at least 7,800 customers were without power in the New Orleans area as of early this morning. More than 10,000 homes and businesses lost power in nearby Kenner, where ping-pong ball sized hail was also reported.
Meanwhile in Michoud, the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility and the USDA National Finance Center’s Primary Business Center sustained damage from the tornado. One person was injured and about 200 cars were damaged at the NASA facility. Flight hardware appears to be undamaged, according to media reports, although the facility roof and walls will require repair.
In Donaldsonville, about 20 miles southwest of Baton Rouge, apparent tornadoes destroyed several homes and buildings. Several houses were also destroyed with several more damaged in Killian, along with reported injuries.
In Livingston Parish, at least ten homes were damaged with two minor injuries reported.
The governor of Louisiana has declared a state of emergency. Search and rescue teams are searching for survivors with support of the Louisiana National Guard. The Red Cross is also assisting first-responders.
Reported tornadoes have affected Scott and Jasper Counties, according to the U.S. Storm Prediction Center. Over a dozen homes have been damaged in Scott County along with two flea markets. A mobile home sustained minor damage in Jasper County. Reports of downed trees and powerlines are widespread.
A reported tornado affected Bradford County rendering roof damage to an elementary school cafeteria in Lawtey. Reports of clustered damaging nontornadic wind gusts affected areas across the Florida Panhandle to Jacksonville. Reports of downed trees and powerlines are widespread. Considerable roof damage has also been reported in some areas.
Sources: Reuters, Associated Press, U.S. National Weather Service, U.S. Storm Prediction Center, The Weather Channel.
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