Louisiana

Tornado strikes New Orleans metro; damage surveys underway

About an hour after a violent tornado damaged a hospital and homes in New Iberia, Louisiana, the severe weather threat spread across the New Orleans metropolitan area, triggering at least one confirmed tornado.

The severe weather was caused by a major coast-to-coast storm system that produced snowstorms and tornadoes on the plains from south Texas to Alabama.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 15 simultaneous active tornado warnings issued by the National Weather Service throughout the Southeast.

Shortly after, a tornado was sighted on the ground moving through New Orleans, according to a local fire department.

According to the region’s largest energy supplier, more than 40,000 energy customers had a power outage during the severe storms.

FOX Weather correspondent Mitti Hicks was in New Orleans as tornado warnings neared. The NWS issued a tornado warning for Orleans and Jefferson parishes just before 4 p.m. CT

Conditions began to deteriorate rapidly around Lake Pontchartrain, where Hicks was located. Lightning flashed across the water and the wind began to whip trees.

“Things changed drastically in 20 minutes. They can’t even see 30 feet in front of me,” Hicks said.

Immediately after the storm, Jefferson City Councilman Scott Walker began inspecting the damage.

“It was on the West Bank that the tornado formed and then crossed the river into the city of New Orleans and did some damage in the town of Gretna, old Gretna, a few streets there. There was a Winn-Dixie on the West Bank Expressway, which is a kind of freeway that takes you into the Crescent City connection into the city — the roof collapsed there and there’s some significant damage to that business,” Walker said.

Cindy DeLucca Hernandez was in Arabi, Louisiana when she discovered the supercell.

“It was 4:07 p.m. and I was on my way home from work trying to beat the rain home,” Hernandez said. “We were at the light and saw the debris and got hit by it, so I put it in reverse and waited. I was shocked.”

As of Wednesday evening, authorities had reported no deaths related to the storm that hit the subway; However, a previous round of storms is believed to have resulted in the deaths of at least three people across the state.

New Orleans is no stranger to destructive tornadoes

In March, two tornadoes swept through part of New Orleans, killing a 25-year-old man and leaving a trail of devastation in their wake.

The largest of the two, rated at least EF-3 by the NWS, was identified as a large, multi vortex Tornado tracks 11 miles into the Arabi and Lower Ninth Ward.

Areas damaged included Orleans, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, and Jefferson parishes. Some of the same communities were damaged during the recent event.

The city of Arabi was also devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Some spots were 10 to 20 feet under water when the levees collapsed.

WHAT IS A MULTI-VORTEX TORNADO?

At least 36 tornadoes have been reported from Oklahoma and Texas east to Louisiana and Mississippi since Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

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