Severe thunderstorms barreled through the Southeast on Tuesday, dropping multiple tornadoes in southern Louisiana, one of which did major damage to communities in Eastern New Orleans — among the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
After damage surveys Wednesday, the National Weather Service confirmed what meteorologists suspected as they watched the twister rake through New Orleans suburbs: It was an EF-3 — a significant tornado.
The chaos was filmed by storm chasers and residents as it tracked from west to east across the populous New Orleans region. Multiple tornado warnings were issued as the storm evolved in which the National Weather Service used strong language to convey a tornado had been spotted on the ground.
The Storm Prediction Center lists five quality-controlled tornado reports. On Tuesday, the National Weather Service confirmed at least three tornadoes touched down.
So far, the tornado near Donaldsonville, La., has been preliminarily rated an EF-1, though that could increase if the continuing storm survey finds more severe damage.
New Orleans East Hospital confirmed five patients were admitted with storm-related injuries, WGNO reported. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said damage is “substantial” and dozens of people were injured, though most injuries were minor. He told reporters he was “impressed that so few people were injured and there was no loss of life.”
The NASA Michoud Assembly Facility east of New Orleans sustained damage as the tornado passed through and the campus lost power. The smell of gas prompted an evacuation, which delayed damage assessments until the late afternoon. The facility is in the process of building a new deep-space rocket, which NASA says was undamaged. The building that surrounds it, though, had large gaping holes in the walls and roof.