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2 tornadoes hit metro New Orleans, NWS confirms: What we know as of Wednesday morning

Arabi tornado
Halle Parker
Old Arabi residents walk past the remains of a local church as they leave their homes after a tornado ripped through the St. Bernard Parish neighborhood on Tuesday, March 22, 2022.

A couple of tornadoes touched down in the New Orleans area Tuesday evening, resulting in significant damage to an area still reeling from Hurricane Ida, multiple injuries and even a death.

Officials said Wednesday they were still assessing the damage, particularly in St. Bernard Parish where one tornado caused the most damage to the area. Leaders from surrounding parishes have moved their resources to the parish to help, and Gov. John Bel Edwards is expected to hold a press conference in Arabi at about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Here’s what we know so far as of Wednesday morning.

How many injuries and deaths are being reported?

St. Bernard Parish President Guy McInnis confirmed the death of an Arabi resident at 9:45 p.m. He said multiple people were hospitalized and that search and rescue missions would take place throughout the night, but could not confirm how many people were injured or missing.

St. Tammany Parish officials said there were no confirmed injuries or deaths just before 8:45 p.m. Tuesday, but about 1,000 homes and businesses lost power due to severe weather.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a statement that as of 10:00 p.m. Tuesday that there were “no reports of casualties or significant damage to Orleans Parish.”

Which areas were impacted?

Arabi, Chalmette, the Lower 9th Ward, New Orleans East, Slidell, Lacombe and Gretna.

Arabi in St. Bernard Parish was one of the most impacted communities after a series of tornadoes wreaked havoc on metro New Orleans. Water poured from broken fire hydrants, school buses were flipped on their side, and countless poles, transformers and electrical wires were sprawled across the ground.

The large system was spotted near the Lower 9th Ward just after 7:30 p.m., according to storm footage captured by WDSU. The tornado then crossed over to New Orleans East, and made its way toward Slidell just before 8 p.m., according to reports.

Another tornado was sighted in Lacombe, but the parish hasn’t reported any deaths, injuries or severe damage.

How many tornadoes?

At least two tornadoes were picked up on doppler radar and confirmed by eyewitnesses, including the particularly destructive tornado that touched down in St. Bernard Parish and New Orleans, according to the National Weather Service.

That tornado touched down at 7:30 p.m. and has been described by news outlets as a “multi-vortex tornado.” The National Weather Service gave that tornado a preliminary rating of EF-3, with winds of 136 to 165 mph, based on early findings.

A smaller tornado touched down around the same time in Lacombe, northeast of New Orleans. The National Weather Service categorized that tornado with a rating of EF-1 on Wednesday morning.

How did this happen?

The tornadoes were part of a severe thunderstorm system that carved a path of destruction through the southern U.S. The weather event reached Louisiana’s western border Tuesday morning and continued to move eastward Wednesday morning.

More than 60 tornadoes had been reported in Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi as a result of the storm system, according to the Weather Channel.

Earlier weather reports anticipated Baton Rouge getting the brunt of the storms, including possible tornadoes, hail and flooding. But the weather event passed over the Capitol region late afternoon Tuesday with little to no impact.

Aubry is a reporter, producer and operations assistant in Baton Rouge.
Katelyn Umholtz is the digital editor for WWNO and WRKF and is based out of New Orleans.

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