Louisiana is slowly but surely becoming a part of tornado alley, a section of the United States that frequently experiences large scale tornadoes. The southern state has earned a ranking of third in the nation for tornado occurrences. But there is one parish that experiences tornadoes more than any other.
The part of Louisiana that gets the most tornadoes is Lafayette Parish. The area has been affected by 226 tornadoes since 1950, roughly 3 tornadoes per year.
The following article is a more detailed description of how often tornadoes hit Lafayette Parish, Louisiana. It also includes a brief guide on how to stay safe during southern tornadoes.
How Often Does Lafayette Parish Have Tornadoes?
On average, Lafayette Parish is 72% more affected by tornadoes. The parish has experienced 226 tornadoes in total since 1950, with the largest occurring in 1983.
Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, is at a much higher risk for tornadoes than the other areas of Louisiana. According to the United States natural disaster index, Lafayette Parish has a tornado index of 326.55. The higher the number is, the more affected by tornadoes the area is. Compared to the entire state of Louisiana at 235.86, Lafayette Parish is exponentially more affected.
History of Tornadoes in Lafayette Parish
The most damaging tornadoes in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, occurred in 1977 and 1980. Including those events, the parish has experienced a total of nine historical tornado events, with varying amounts of damage caused.
The costliest tornado in terms of damage happened on March 28, 1977. The tornado reached a magnitude of 2 on the damage scale (5 being the highest) and covered a distance of 3.2 miles. It ended up causing 2.5 million dollars in property damages, but fortunately, no one was injured or killed.
The second most costly tornado occurred on October 18, 1980. The tornado also reached a magnitude of 2 on the damage scale but covered a larger distance of 7.3 miles. The tornado caused 250 thousand dollars in property damage, and 4 people were injured.
The other 7 record-making tornadoes the parish experienced had damage costs ranging from 250 thousand dollars to 1 million dollars. The combination of costly damage and a higher likelihood of being hit makes Lafayette Parish the most tornado affected area in Louisiana.
Why Does Louisiana Have So Many Tornadoes?
The main reasons Louisiana experiences a high number of tornadoes is its location and its weather conditions. The mixture of cold air from the Gulf of Mexico and warm air from tropical thunderstorms make Louisiana highly susceptible to tornadoes.
Tornadoes form when cold and dry air collides with warm and stable air. The cold and dry air mainly comes from the Gulf of Mexico, of which Louisiana shares a coastline. The warm and stable air comes from the tropical thunderstorms that shift toward Louisiana. Once the air collides, it becomes unstable, and a tornado breaks out.
How To Stay Safe During Tornadoes
Since Louisiana homes usually don’t have basements, its citizens have to follow different procedures to stay safe during tornadoes. The most important things to do are go to the lowest floor of the building and have an emergency kit prepared.
Before you take shelter, make sure you have a prepared emergency kit on hand. A few things to put in the emergency kit include:
- Water and food rations
- Battery powered radios or televisions
- Fresh batteries for the radio/TV
- A plan to follow for evacuation, if necessary
The emergency kit should be kept somewhere that’s easy to remember, such as a closet or supply room.
Louisiana houses typically don’t have basements because of the damp and unstable soil the land has. Since Louisiana citizens don’t have this shelter option, the tornado safety steps are to go to the lowest part of the building and avoid windows. If you can’t make it to the lower area of a building, a few other good places to take shelter from a tornado include:
- A closet or bathroom
- Under a stairwell
- An interior hallway with no windows
Once you find somewhere to take shelter, you can protect yourself from falling debris by covering yourself with something heavy and soft. The most effective covering from falling debris is an emergency blanket since they are thick and heavy. If you don’t have access to an emergency blanket, then a mattress or thick blanket is suitable.
The final step is to listen for updates on where the tornado is and how intense it is. You should not leave your shelter until the local weather service gives a complete all clear for the tornado.
Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, experiences the most tornadoes out of anywhere else in the state. Because of the frequency and how quickly tornadoes can appear, it can sometimes be hard to predict when one will hit the area. This is why it’s important to make sure you are prepared with an emergency kit and a plan to take shelter, just in case a tornado strikes.