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

Severe Weather Awareness Week February 18-24, 2018

Severe Weather Preparedness Week February 19-23, 2018

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 18, 2018 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  

2017 Louisiana Severe Weather Highlights


2017 had a record number of tornadoes in Louisiana. A total of 88 tornadoes were reported, the most since 79 tornadoes occurred in 2008. All areas of the state were impacted by severe thunderstorms or tornadoes during the year.

There were several days last year that accounted for multiple tornado touchdowns in the state:

  • April 2nd-3rd – 21 tornadoes occurred in the state including several strong, long tracked tornadoes in north Louisiana resulting in several injuries. Two people were killed in St Martin Parish, in south-central Louisiana, when a tornado struck a mobile home fatally injuring a mother and her young child.
  • January 2nd – 12 tornadoes touched down in southwest and southeast Louisiana. Fortunately, the tornadoes were generally weak and there were no injuries or fatalities.

Southeast Louisiana experienced some of the most significant tornadoes in the state last year, when 3 strong tornadoes (EF-2 or EF-3) touched down on Tuesday, February 7th.  The strongest tornado occurred in East New Orleans when a strong (EF-3) tornadoes tracked across East New Orleans for approximately 10 miles heavily damaging or destroying many homes and businesses with maximum wind speeds estimated near 150 mph. In some locations the damage path was 600 yards wide. There were 33 injuries, but fortunately no fatalities. Numerous photos and videos were taken of this unusually large and strong tornado that affected the Metro New Orleans area.

Severe thunderstorm winds also caused injuries and fatalities in Louisiana last year. One person was killed and several people injured in two separate events in DeSoto Parish on May 26 when trees fell onto automobiles.


2017 Louisiana Severe Weather Highlights

  • Total Number of Tornadoes: 88 (preliminary)
  • Number of Strong Tornadoes: 12 - ten EF-2 and two EF-3 on Enhanced Fujita Scale
  • Average Annual Tornadoes: 37 - (averaging period 1991-2010)
  • Number of Tornado Injuries: 42
  • Number of Tornado Deaths: 3
  • Severe Thunderstorm Wind:  Fatalities - 1   Injuries - 4
  • Lightning:  Fatalities - 0   Injuries - 0


2017 Severe Weather Highlights for NWS New Orleans/Baton Rouge Area of Southeast Louisiana and South Mississippi

  • Total Number of Tornadoes: 28 (preliminary)
  • Number of Strong Tornadoes: 3 - one EF-2 and two EF-3 on Enhanced Fujita Scale
  • Average Annual Tornadoes: 15 - (averaging period 1991-2010)
  • Number of Tornado Injuries: 33 (Feb 7 tornado in East New Orleans)
  • Number of Tornado Deaths: 1 (Feb 7 tornado in St. James Parish)
  • Severe Thunderstorm Wind:  Fatalities - 0   Injuries - 1
  • Lightning:  Fatalities - 0   Injuries - 0


New Orleans, LA Tornado Damage
Tornado Damage in New Orleans, LA
February 7, 2017

New Orleans, LA Tornado Damage
  Tornado Damage in New Orleans, LA
February 7, 2017


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 21st, 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