New Orleans tornado: 3 dead in Louisiana as US storm spawns Southern tornadoes

KEITHVILLE, La. — A vast and volatile storm system that swept across the US killed at least three people in Louisiana and whipped up tornadoes that swept the state from north to south, including the New Orleans area where memories of 2021’s Hurricane Ida and one March tornado aftermath.

Elsewhere, the vast system hurled blizzard-like conditions onto the Great Plains.

Authorities reported multiple injuries in Louisiana and more than 40,000 power outages statewide as of Wednesday night.

The punishing storms moved east on Wednesday after killing a mother and son in the state’s northwest a day earlier. The system unleashed a suspected tornado that killed a woman Wednesday in the community of St. Charles in southeast Louisiana and another that devastated parts of New Orleans and neighboring communities of Jefferson and St. Bernard — including areas cut through were severely damaged by a tornado in March.

Tornado crosses the Mississippi River

A tornado hit New Iberia, Louisiana, slightly injuring five people and smashing windows of a multi-story building at the Iberia Medical Center, the hospital said. As night fell, tornado threats eased in Mississippi, although some counties in Florida and Alabama continued to face severe weather threats.

New Orleans emergency director Collin Arnold said businesses and homes in the city suffered significant wind damage, mostly on the west bank of the Mississippi. A house has collapsed. Four people were injured there, he said, adding: “The last word we had was that they were stable.”

Similar damage has been reported nearby.

“Several homes and businesses have sustained catastrophic damage,” the Jefferson Parish Community Sheriff’s Office said in a statement from that large suburb west of New Orleans. Among the badly damaged buildings was the sheriff’s office training academy building.

In St. Bernard Parish — where the March twistor wreaked havoc — Sheriff Jimmy Pohlman said the latest tornado damage covered a distance of about two miles. Mayor Guy McInnis said damage was less than March’s tornado, although numerous roofs were blown off or damaged.

Authorities in St. Charles Parish, west of New Orleans, said a woman was found dead there after a suspected tornado struck the community of Killona on the Mississippi River on Wednesday, damaging homes. Eight people were taken to hospital with injuries, officials said.

“She was outside the residence, so we don’t know exactly what happened,” St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said of the woman who was killed. “There was rubble everywhere. She could have been hit. We don’t know exactly. But that was a terrible and very violent tornado.”

About 450 kilometers away in northern Louisiana, it took hours for authorities to find the bodies of a mother and child who were missing after a tornado swept away their RV Tuesday in Keithville, south of Shreveport.

“You’re looking for a house and the house isn’t even there, so where are you looking?” Gov. John Bel Edwards told reporters, noting the challenge that responders faced as he traveled a mile-long trail of destruction in rural Keithville. He had issued a declaration of emergency earlier in the day.

The Caddo Township Coroner’s Office said the body of 8-year-old Nikolus Little was found in a forest late Tuesday night and the body of his mother, Yoshiko A. Smith, 30, was found under storm debris early Wednesday.

Caddo Township Sheriff’s Sergeant. Casey Jones said the boy’s father went shopping before the storm. “He just went shopping for his family, came home and the house was gone,” Jones said.

The storms raged across Louisiana from north to south. In Union Parish, near the Arkansas line, Farmerville Mayor John Crow said a tornado Tuesday night severely damaged an apartment complex housing 50 families and destroyed a neighboring trailer park of about 10 homes. “It happened quickly,” Crow said Wednesday, adding that about 30 homes were also damaged at nearby Lake D’Arbonne.

A suspected tornado reported Wednesday in New Iberia, southwest Louisiana, damaged several buildings at the New Iberia Medical Center, hospital officials said, with five people reporting minor injuries.

In neighboring Rankin County, Mississippi, a suspected tornado destroyed four large chicken coops, one of which contained 5,000 roosters, Sheriff Bryan Bailey said. Mobile homes at a park in Sharkey County, Mississippi have been reduced to shredded debris.

The storm began its cross-country journey, dumping heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada. Damage followed Tuesday as thunderstorms from the storm swept through Texas. At least five people were injured in Grapevine, a Dallas suburb, police spokeswoman Amanda McNew said.

Forecasters now expect the massive system to hobble the upper Midwest with days of ice, rain, and snow, and also encroach into the central Appalachian Mountains and the Northeast. The national weather service issued a winter storm watch from Wednesday night through Friday afternoon, depending on the timing of the storm. Residents from West Virginia to Vermont have been urged to be alert for a possible significant mix of snow, ice and sleet.

“This system is notable for affecting areas from California all the way to the Northeast,” said Frank Pereira, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in College Park, Maryland.

In the Black Hills of western South Dakota, the snow piled up to 60 centimeters in some places. “They shovel for hours,” Vicki told Weekly, who runs a historic hotel in the tourist and gambling town of Deadwood, where some visitors still ventured into the casinos.

About 320 miles of Interstate 90 in South Dakota was closed Wednesday, and state officials warned drivers there to stay away from most freeways.

In northern Minnesota, wet, heavy snow sagged branches and made Wednesday’s driving treacherous. Duluth Weather Service meteorologist Ketzel Levens said some areas had accumulated 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 centimeters) of snow.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. New Orleans tornado: 3 dead in Louisiana as US storm spawns Southern tornadoes

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