NWS Shreveport addresses why warning wasn’t issued sooner for Youree Drive tornado

NWS holds news conference on tornado that touched down in Shreveport
Published: Mar. 3, 2023 at 3:26 PM CST
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - Friday afternoon, the National Weather Service (NWS) held a news conference to discuss the EF-1 tornado that briefly touched down in the Youree Drive area Thursday, March 2.

The tornado was only on the ground for five minutes, with a track length of just under four miles. It had wind speeds of up to 100 mph, and was 100 yards wide at its widest point, NWS officials said Friday. The tornado first touched down in southeast Shreveport on Ellerbe Road, then continued on to Youree Drive, and traveled onto the LSUS campus, where it lifted.

At the news conference, a number of questions were asked about why NWS did not issue a Tornado Warning until after the tornado had lifted.

Charlie Woodrum, the warning coordination meteorologist with NWS Shreveport, says they were monitoring the storm cell as it was traveling north from DeSoto Parish, but that it wasn’t showing strong rotation. Tornado Warnings are issued when the radar observed rotation reaches a certain threshold. Due to the small size of the storm as it entered Shreveport and how quickly the tornado formed, the radar was not able to detect it prior to touching down.

Once storm spotters on the ground saw the tornado, NWS issued a warning, Woodrum says, but by the time that warning came out the tornado had already touched down, done damage and dissipated. However, Woodrum did note that the Storm Prediction Center highlighted the area for potential severe weather about four to five days before so tornadoes were expected to occur with some of the thunderstorms.

Woodrum said they want to learn from this experience so they can issue warnings in a more timely fashion in the future.

Survey teams with NWS were out Friday assessing damage; Woodrum says they surveyed at least 50 damaged homes and businesses. Most had some roof damage and trees down, while there was some structural damage reported on the LSUS campus.

Woodrum also noted that three NWS teams were out Friday assessing damage throughout the ArkLaTex. Those teams confirmed another tornado in Miller County, Ark., which they’re tracking back into Harrison and Marion counties in Texas. He says video evidence shows at least four tornadoes from the four-state region (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas) and as many as potentially 10.