A strong storm system will punch through the WBRZ Weather forecast area through 11am Saturday morning. Rain will end around midday with some clearing for the afternoon.
A TORNADO WATCH has been issued for East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Ascension, Assumption, Iberville, East Feliciana, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, St. James, St. Mary Tangipahoa and West Feliciana Parishes as well as, Amite, Pike and Wilkinson Counties until 12pm Saturday. As the squall line passes, the watch will be trimmed from west to east.
A TORNADO WATCH means conditions are favorable for tornadoes and/or damaging winds in and around the watch area. Be on the lookout for threatening weather conditions and listen for later statements and possible warnings. If a tornado warning is issued, seek shelter in a low-level, interior room of a sturdy building. For more on tornadoes and how to stay safe, CLICK HERE.
1) Damaging wind – could exceed 58mph, with isolated gusts over 75mph
2) Isolated tornadoes – more likely with any storms ahead of the line, possible along it too
4) Hail – 1 to 2 inches in diameter
3) Downpours – particularly heavy storms could produce a lot of rain in a short time.
The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has placed the entire forecast area in an “enhanced risk” (three on a scale to five) for severe weather. This means numerous severe storms are possible within the risk area. A few intense thunderstorms are possible. To add specificity to the large enhanced risk area, maximized wind shear and brief daytime warming will make the chances for severe weather a little higher north and east of Baton Rouge. For this area, the SPC has marked “significant severe” possible. This means some wind gusts could exceed 75mph and some tornadoes could reach EF2 strength or higher.
Regardless of any thunderstorm winds, the breezes will remain elevated through Saturday afternoon. A WIND ADVISORY is in effect for the entire forecast area. This means sustained winds of 15 – 25mph are expected with gusts over 35mph possible. It does not take a thunderstorm to blow around unsecured objects. Tree limbs could be blown down and a few power outages can result. Use caution driving high profile vehicles and on elevated roadways.
This storm system will be a quick mover. We need to be on alert after 3am for any isolated thunderstorms, as these will be capable of producing a tornado. Moving almost due west to east, the squall line, with a greater threat for damaging wind will reach Wilkinson County, Pointe Coupee and Iberville Parish between 4-7am, the Mississippi River and Baton Rouge between 6-9am, and I-55 between 8-11am. Once the leading edge of the line passes your location, the threat for severe weather will rapidly diminish. One caveat to the timing aspect of the forecast is that this system will arrive at dawn, when the atmosphere is at its coolest for the day. It is possible that this keeps the line of storms a bit weaker for the western half of the area and then it will strengthen as it moves east to areas that have experienced some daytime warming.
Actions to Take:
Since it is a weekend morning, many may tend to be less in touch with news and weather. Think about where you will be on Saturday morning and identify the place in that structure that is central, low and away from windows. That is where you should go if a warning is issued.
Please have access to alerts through Saturday afternoon. You can download or activate the WBRZ WX App on your Apple or Android device or turn on a NOAA Weather Radio for bulletins such as watches and urgent warnings. Of course, WBRZ, WBRZ+ and the Cable Weather Channel will have updates as active weather dictates. There will be a constant stream of updates an alerts on wbrz.com as well as WBRZ Weather on Facebook and Twitter.
Safety and Reminders:
In a safe structure, you could have a helmet for everyone to wear. It is also a good idea for everyone to have a portable air horn (to get the attention of first responders if you need help), and be sure and wear hard sole shoes (you don’t want to walk over a debris field with tennis shoes, or bare feet). Leash pets and take them with you to avoid being separated. Keep your cell phone charged and a charger nearby. Avoid driving in thunderstorms. If you must, never seek shelter under a bridge, find a nearby sturdy building. If you encounter a water covered road, please turn around.
Remember, a watch means “conditions are favorable, and a particular threat could develop” and a warning means that “threat is happening and you should take action immediately.” Never rely on an outdoor warning siren; you have little hope of hearing them indoors. There is no need to be afraid. Events like this are common and are NOT unprecedented. Stay in touch with the forecast, know your severe weather plan, be able to receive warnings, and we will get through the day just fine.