Awareness Info 2013 Severe Weather NWR & Wireless Emgergency Alerts Safety Info

Severe Weather Awareness Week

February 17 - 21, 2014

Severe Weather Awareness Week Information

Tornadoes, damaging thunderstorm winds, large hail, and flash floods can occur at any time of the year. However, late winter and spring usually bring the greatest chance of these severe weather events occurring in Louisiana.

The week of February 17, 2014 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. 

McNeil Tornado Damage
Tornado Damage in McNeil, MS
December 25, 2012

McNeil Tornado Damage
  Tornado Damage in McNeil, MS
December 25, 2012









Severe Weather Highlights in Southeast Louisiana

Last year was fairly quiet with regard to severe weather in Louisiana, as well as in southeast Louisiana. A total of 28 tornadoes were recorded in Louisiana last year, which is below the long term annual average of 37. Of these tornadoes, only one was rated strong, EF2 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, which occurred in West Carroll Parish on Jan 29th. Tornado damage throughout the state was primarily limited to minor or moderate property damage. No tornado related fatalities were recorded in the state last year. In southeast Louisiana and coastal Mississippi, a total of 10 tornadoes touched down during 2013. This was well below the total of 22 recorded in the previous year of 2012. Of those 10 tornadoes, 9 tornadoes occurred in southeast Louisiana and were all rated as weak, either EF0 or EF1 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. The weak tornadoes caused mainly minor property damage. However, two minor injuries occurred when a tornado touched down in Metairie on the afternoon of April 24 and overturned a large truck causing minor injuries to the occupants.

One of the tornadoes in southeast Louisiana was the result of a waterspout moving onshore Grand Isle during the afternoon of June 19th causing minor property damage.

There were a few severe thunderstorm events during the spring with associated strong wind gusts and hail. Property damage during these events was generally localized and minor.

No lightning or injuries were recorded in the southeast Louisiana, unlike the past few years when several lightning fatalities occurred recorded.

Severe Weather Product Issuance Guidelines

Visit this link to see an interactive timeline of the products we issue and how we issue them.

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, February 19, 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.

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




Safety, Watch, and Warning 

Home Safety Tip

bullet type image

Move to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor and get under a sturdy piece of furniture.

Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside.


School Severe Weather Safety Tips

bullet type image

Practice a severe weather action plan that includes a means of receiving severe weather watches and warnings, and safety procedures to follow when warnings are issued or when severe weather develops.

Seek shelter in an interior hallway on the lowest floor, away from windows and doors.


Other Structures Safety Tips

bullet type image

If you live in a mobile home, move to a substantial shelter if severe weather threatens. The thin walls are vulnerable to wind blown debris, and they can be easily overturned by strong wind gusts.

In large buildings such as office buildings, hospitals, or shopping centers, move rapidly to a designated shelter. Do not try to escape in your car.


Outdoor Safety Tips (For Lightning/Thunderstorms)

bullet type image

Move inside a sturdy building or car if a sturdy building is not available.

Do not take shelter in small sheds or under isolated trees.

Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are imminent.


Flash Flood Safety Tips

bullet type image

Avoid walking, swimming, or driving in flood waters.

If you live in a flood prone area, monitor weather conditions and move to higher ground if a warning is issued for your area.


Tornado and Severe Thunderstorm Watches

bullet type image

Atmospheric conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms and/or tornadoes during the next several hours.

Stay alert for rapidly changing weather conditions and be ready to take action if warnings are issued.


Tornado and Severe Thunderstorm Warnings

bullet type image

A tornado or severe thunderstorm has been reported or indicated by radar.

Seek appropriate safe shelter if you are in the path of the storm.

 is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.