Another round of severe storms, some possibly containing tornadoes, is forecast for a wide area, including Red River Parish. There will be a cold front moving through that may spawn storms, and the weather service says there is also the possibility of storm cells developing in advance of the front.
The Journal sat in on the local meeting of the Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Committee Thursday morning. Part of that meeting was a presentation by the National Weather Service. The weather service said, “Heavy rain and a flood potential may ramp up Friday afternoon and the threat will last from Friday evening to early Saturday morning.”
The weather service briefing also said, “The possibility for strong, long track tornadoes exists across a 4-state area served by the Shreveport weather service office. These may be worse in some areas than weather seen last Friday.” And the briefing added, “Cells will form during the day (Friday) ahead of the line (a cold front) and will be super cellular with a larger threat of producing tornadoes and hail.”
As you can see on the forecast map, Red River is included in the area of highest rainfall at four inches. We are also in the highest potential for severe storm and flash flood development.
The weather service briefing concluded, “This is a significant severe weather threat. The Storm Prediction Center is confident that this will develop in the northwest Louisiana area. The threat level may be upgraded further.” Note: The forecast is for a large area in orange on the map, not just for Red River Parish.
The meeting also discussed the storm that passed through on April 6th. Director of the parish Office of Emergency Preparedness, Shane Hubbard said, “If the storm path had not changed we could have had a mass casualty situation, if the storm had gone through the (Jones Street) housing projects.”
Representatives of various emergency agencies in the parish discussed the current level of preparedness. Sheriff Glen Edwards said, “I think our parish is better prepared than we have ever been. When the situation got worse (last Friday) our deputies came. And the city police and police jury employees reported to work.” Edwards added, “We have better equipment and more personnel than in the past.”
Theresa King from Christus Coushatta discussed the hospital’s readiness to deal with injuries in the event of a disaster. King said they have a back-up generator that powers the entire hospital. And she said their greatest challenge would be getting in touch with staff to call them in to work in the event electricity and phone service in the town were interrupted.
Late in the day Thursday Red River Parish Superintendent of Schools Alison Hughes sent out a notice to parents that the school day today may be cut short in the event severe weather develops. Here is the statement from Hughes:
“We have been alerted by the National Weather Service that there will be severe storms moving into our area tomorrow midday which could possibly produce tornadoes and damaging winds. I will be working with the Department of Homeland Security throughout the evening to determine if it will be necessary to dismiss school early to avoid any danger for our students. I will have more information tomorrow morning and will make a decision at the earliest possible time about school dismissal. In the event that it is necessary to dismiss school early, we will send out another message to ensure that you are duly informed.”