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Awareness Info 2016 Severe Weather NWR & Wireless Emgergency Alerts Tornado and Severe Weather Safety Rules

Louisiana Severe Weather Awareness Week 

Mississippi Severe Weather Preparedness Week

February 17-23, 2019

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 and Mississippi.

The week of February 17, 2019 has been designated as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Louisiana. The same week is also Severe Weather Preparedness Week in the state of Mississippi. The goal of these Severe Weather Awareness and Preparedness Weeks 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 threatens
  • A reliable method of receiving warnings and 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.

For additional information on Mississippi Severe Weather Preparedness Week and Mississippi severe weather information visit

Our partners at the Louisiana Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) have additional hazardous weather and severe weather safety information.  Please visit their websites:


2018 Louisiana Severe Weather Highlights


2018 was another extremely active year in regard to severe weather across the state with more than 80 tornadoes touching down in Louisiana. A preliminary estimate of 83 tornadoes touched down across the state, around the same number as last year. All areas of the state were impacted by severe thunderstorms or tornadoes during the year.

There were two severe weather events last year that accounted for multiple tornado touchdowns in the state, and over half of the annual tornadoes in Louisiana.

  • April 13-14th – 26 tornadoes occurred in the state including several strong, long tracked tornadoes in north Louisiana resulting in several injuries. The most significant tornado occurred on night of April 13th when a tornado tracked 23 miles across the Shreveport area, downing trees, power lines, and causing millions of dollars in property damage. A 2 year child was killed when a tree fell onto the travel trailer the family was residing.

  • Oct 31–Nov 1st – 22 Tornadoes touched down across the state including several strong, long tracked tornadoes. One particular tornado of note was a strong tornado that developed southwest Alexandria, then tracked northeast for 38 miles before lifting northwest of Jena. Overall the tornado was on the ground for nearly an hour as it carved a path through Rapides, Grant and LaSalle Parishes. Early warning and effective communication through the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) to mobile phone no doubt reduced impact to human life with no fatalities reported and only two injuries.

    Other long tracked, strong tornadoes in excess of 10 miles occurred in southwest Louisiana, and two, short-lived tornadoes caused injuries in southeast Louisiana during the severe thunderstorms that moved through the state on Oct 31st- and Nov 1st.

Severe thunderstorm winds also caused one fatality in Louisiana in 2018. For the second consecutive year, no lightning fatalities were reported in the state.


2018 Louisiana Tornado Highlights

  • Total Number of Tornadoes: 83 (preliminary)
  • Number of Strong Tornadoes: 12 - all EF2 on Enhanced Fujita Scale
  • Average Annual Tornadoes: 37 - (averaging period 1991-2010)
  • Number of Tornado Injuries: 13
  • Number of Tornado Deaths: 1
  • Severe Thunderstorm Wind:  Fatalities - 1   Injuries - 0
  • Lightning:  Fatalities - 0   Injuries - 0


2018 Tornado Highlights for NWS New Orleans/Baton Rouge Area of Southeast Louisiana and South Mississippi

  • Total Number of Tornadoes: 21 (preliminary)
  • Number of Strong Tornadoes: 2 - both EF2 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale
  • Average Annual Tornadoes: 15 - (averaging period 1991-2010)
  • Number of Tornado Injuries: 2 (Nov 1st tornado in Washington Parish)
  • Number of Tornado Deaths: 0
  • Severe Thunderstorm Wind:  Fatalities - 0   Injuries - 0
  • Lightning:  Fatalities - 0   Injuries - 0


For additional information on Mississippi Severe Weather Preparedness Week and Mississippi severe weather information visit


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 20th, 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 & Wireless 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


Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) Success Story

Since the rollout of the Wireless Emergency Alert feature on mobile phone several years ago there have been a number of success stories where timely Tornado Warnings from the NWS and distribution to individuals cell phones via the WEA feature allowed people to seek safety during a life-threatening tornado situation.

On such example occurred last year in Louisiana near the small town of Trout  (LaSalle Parish) on the night of Oct 31st when family received a Tornado Warning  from the WEA feature on their cell phone, The family quickly moved from their double-wide mobile home to a nearby house of a family member.  Their mobile home was completely destroyed by the strong (EF2) tornado.   A timely Tornado Warning, and rapid distribution by the WEA feature to the warned area followed by quick action certainly led to a positive outcome and possible loss of lives.


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