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BOBBY ARDOIN Editor/Consulting Writer

Officials with the National Weather Service are confirming that at least two tornadoes touched down separately in rural St. Landry Parish areas early Wednesday morning, administering considerable damage while affecting thousands of utility customers who are still without electricity.

“It appears that after looking at the data that some of the worst damage occurred in St. Landry,” said NWS representative Doug Cramer, who spoke during a Thursday afternoon press conference held in conjunction with parish officials at the Courthouse.

Cramer said it is apparent that tornadic activity north of the Town of Washington and in the La. 103 area near Port Barre, occurred as part of several storm systems that spawned ahead of a squall line that moved in from Texas.

Each of the tornadoes, which Cramer said, packed low-level Ef2 winds of nearly 90 miles per hour which did most of the damage in each of the most affected areas.

Cramer pointed to an area on La. 10 east of the Beggs area where nearly 10 utility poles along the road were knocked down as evidence of the ferocity of the winds that impacted St. Landry.

The high impact of the storm arrived with as much severity as weather service officials expected, Cramer said.

“We thought we had a pretty good handle on that. We think that in advance of Wednesday, we had this storm forecasted well. There were a lot of warnings as this system approached for (St. Landry),” Cramer added.

Straight line winds, Cramer said, apparently began forming ahead of the squall line moving through areas of Texas.

Parish officials are estimating that about 10,000 trees in St. Landry experienced some kind of damage from the high winds.

Powering Up Parishwide

Parish president Jessie Bellard estimated that about 6,500 customers – most of them in areas inside and around Opelousas – were still without power early Thursday afternoon.

Bellard said about 1,000 customers are located in the western part of Opelousas in the Grolee Street area.

About 50 roads in St. Landry remained closed on Thursday, Bellard said. 

“What we have done with the roads at this point is just cutting and pushing things to the side. We’ll worry about what to do with it later,” added Bellard.

Bellard feels the parish was prepared to handle the aftermath of the storm.

“Right now we have about 32 trees that are left to be picked up. We have the parish divided into three, with a crew working each of those areas. We know what to expect and we feel as though we are always prepared for the worst,” Bellard noted.

Bellard pointed out that clean up efforts became complicated since nearly every area of the parish was touched by the storm.

“It was widespread and that’s what really took its toll. The problems were so widespread. It went from Melville to the opposite end of the parish. That was an hour and a half each away,” Bellard said.

Authors

  • Bobby Ardoin
  • Courtney Jennings

    Courtney Jennings is a contributing writer with St. Landry Now since 2023 covering local events throughout the parish. She also runs the local publication MacaroniKID Acadia-St. Landry, an online publication and weekly e-newsletter on family friendly activities, local events, and community resources for parents.

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