Awareness Info 2013 Severe Weather NWR & Wireless Emgergency Alerts Tornado and Severe Weather Safety Rules

Severe Weather Awareness Week

February 28th - March 5th, 2015

Severe Weather Awareness Week Information

Tornadoes, damaging thunderstorm winds, large hail, and flash floods can occur at any time of the year. Last week, the southeast portion of Louisiana experienced one its most significant severe weather events in many years with several tornado related fatalities, many injuries, and significant property damage in several parishes. The late winter and spring months typically brings the greatest chance of severe weather in Louisiana, now is a good time to review the severe weather safety plans.

The week of February 29, 2016 has been designated as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Louisiana. The goal of the awareness week is to call attention to the threats posed by these weather hazards and to review severe weather safety rules in an attempt to reduce the loss of life and injury. Post-storm interviews with survivors of severe weather events prove that preventative safety measures greatly enhance the chance of survival.

Now is the time to develop a severe weather safety plan. A successful plan should include:

  • Knowledge of terminology such as watches and warnings
  • Knowledge of safety rules to follow when severe weather strikes
  • A reliable method of receiving emergency information
  • Review and testing of the plan.

Emergency managers, schools, government agencies, private businesses, and local citizens are encouraged to review their severe weather safety plans and conduct drills as appropriate. 

Louisiana 2015 Severe Weather Summary

Last year, 2015, saw an uptick in the severe weather across the state compared to the previous year of 2014. 32 tornadoes were reported across the state, slightly below the longer term average of 37. Fortunately, all of the tornadoes reported were of weak intensity, either rated EF0 or EF1 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. There were no tornado fatalities, but there were four minor injuries resulting from the weak tornadoes.

Regarding other severe weather hazards, there were 3 injuries from thunderstorm wind gusts last year. Six people were injured from lightning, all occurring during one event on July 4th when a lightning struck a tree at a park at Toledo Bend in far western Louisiana injuring those standing nearby.

Much of the severe weather occurred on several days last year.

  • April 24 – Six weak tornadoes occurred.
  • April 27 – A line of severe thunderstorms moved across the southern portion of Louisiana and produced numerous reports of 50 to 70 mph wind gusts, along with 6 weak tornadoes in southeast sections.
  • Dec 27-28 – Five weak tornadoes we reported as a low pressure and frontal system moved through the region.

2015 Louisiana Tornado Highlights

  • Total Number of Tornadoes: 32
  • Number of Strong Tornadoes: 0
  • Average Annual Tornadoes: 37 - (averaging period 1991-2010)
  • Number of Tornado Injuries: 3
  • Number of Tornado Deaths: 0
  • Severe Thunderstorm Injuries: 3
  • Lightning Injuries: 6

Louisiana Tornadoes
Louisiana Tornadoes since 1980

2015 Severe Weather Highlights in Southeast Louisiana

Sixteen tornadoes occurred in the southeast part of the state, with all them rated as weak, either EF0 or EF1. Three injuries resulted from the tornado touchdowns: two in Tangipahoa Parish on May 17th, and one in St Charles Parish on Oct 25th. All the injuries occurred to occupants of mobile homes. The most significant severe weather event that affected the southeast portion of the state during 2015, was a line of severe thunderstorms that moved rapidly across the region during the morning of Monday, April 27th producing wind gusts of 50 to 70 mph. Numerous reports of downed trees, sign damage, and minor property damage was reported. Wind gust also toppled several railcars off of the east bank elevated approach the Huey P. Long Bridge in the Metairie area of Jefferson Parish. Six weak tornadoes were also reported within the line of thunderstorms.


Pierre Part, LA Tornado Damage
Tornado Damage in Pierre Part, LA
April 27, 2015

Chackbay, LA Tornado Damage
  Tornado Damage near Chackbay, LA
April 27, 2015


NOAA Weather Radio - Tornado Test Message

As part of the Severe Weather Awareness Week activity we will transmit a Tornado Test Message on NOAA Weather Radio Wednesday morning, March 2nd, around 9:15AM. The test message will be similar to the Routine Weekly Test message transmitted each Wednesday. Some NOAA Weather Radios will alarm with the test message, others will only have a TEST message displayed on their LCD screens. The test message will allow individuals and organization to make sure their NOAA Weather Radios are in good working order, and also is a good time to review severe weather safety plans. In the event of severe weather the test will be postponed to a later date.

Wireless Emergency Alert Messages

Severe Weather Criteria

National Weather Service considers the following criteria as severe weather phenomenon:

  • Hail 1 inch in diameter or larger (quarter-sized or greater)
  • Measured wind gusts greater than 58 MPH (50 knots)
  • Observed wind damage, such as fallen trees, property damage, etc.
  • Tornado - a funnel cloud that contacts the ground
  • Flash flooding or flooding that causes death, injuries, or property damage

Local Severe Weather Climatology

To get local parish and county specific severe weather climatology, please visit here.  

Severe weather can happen at any time of the year, but it is most common during the months of March, April, and May in Southeast Louisiana and Southern Mississippi.

Severe weather can also happen at any time of the day, but it is most common during the afternoon hours in Southeast Louisiana and Southern Mississippi.

NOAA Weather Radio & Wirless Emergency Alerts

NOAA Weather Radio is a vital communication link in your severe weather safety plan. NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts continuous weather information. When severe weather watches and warnings are issued, most NOAA Weather Radios are automatically alerted and turned on so that you are alerted about a potential severe weather situation. Some receivers can be programmed specifically for the parish or county where you live.

In the southern United States...including the Gulf Coast states...tornadoes can occur at night. Unfortunately...nocturnal tornadoes have a much greater chance of causing fatalities and injuries as many people are asleep and not monitoring weather conditions or media to know if warnings have been issued. NOAA Weather Radios can be a life saving weather monitoring device during the overnight hours. The Weather Radio can be set in "stand-by" mode overnight and will automatically alarm and turn on if a severe weather watch or warning is issued. When a Severe Thunderstorm or Tornado Watch or Warning is issued, the weather radio will automatically alert and broadcast the warning.

Six transmitters serve southeast Louisiana and southwest and coastal Mississippi.  Click here for additional information on NOAA Weather Radio.

NWS Weather Radio Transmitter Sites

New Orleans/Baton Rouge Area Transmitters

Wireless Emergency Alerts

A relatively new way to receive weather warnings is from the Wireless Emergency Alert feature enabled on many newer model cell phones. Most wireless carriers have also incorporated this feature into their service. This new warning dissemination avenue allows government agencies to send urgent critical messages directly to cell phones in an impacted area. Apps or additional software are not needed. While messages will look very similar to text messages when received, they include a special tone and vibration repeated twice. For additional information, on the Wireless Emergency Alert (WES) feature visit the NWS Weather Ready Nation web site:, and also your cell phone provider.

Wireless Emergency Alert Messages

NWS Local Forecast Office Areas of Responsibility 

Louisiana-Mississippi Map

New Orleans/Baton Rouge

Lake Charles




Tornado and Severe Weather Safety Rules 

During a threat of Severe Weather – closely monitor the weather and the latest forecast.

If a Watch is issued – stay alert and be prepared to take action

If a Warning is issued – take action

  • Seek shelter in an interior room on the lowest floor of your home or business such as a closet, bathroom, or hallway
  • Protect your head from flying debris! If possible, use a helmet, mattress, pillow, or anything that will provide better protection than your hands
  • Abandon mobile homes and vehicles for more substantial shelter
  • Stay away from windows, and do not waste time trying to open them
  • Do not take shelter under a highway or overpass is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.