Why did Acadiana see it's strongest Tornado in almost 40 years?
Updated: May 21, 2020
It is very uncommon that we see strong tornadoes in Acadiana but this past Sunday the first EF3 tornado in almost 4 decades moved through Acadiana. The tornado which dropped in Acadia parish had wind speeds of 150 mph and was on the ground for 4 miles. It injured many and resulted in 1 fatality as it moved through the Richard/Church Point area.
Now days after the storm moved through the question becomes why did such a strong tornado occur, along with can we expect more tornadoes of similar strength in the future?
To start things off, for a tornado to form we need what is called shear. Shear is the change in direction and speed of winds as you get higher in the atmosphere. Taking a look at the models Sunday evening they showed extreme shear in the atmosphere. Winds near the ground were coming from the south while just 3000 feet up winds were coming from the North. This change in direction caused storms that day to spin eventually spawning the tornado in Acadia Parish.
Unfortunately, the tornado was fatal which accounts for the 11th tornado death in Acadiana since 1983 when the last F3 tornado struck the region. During this time, Acadiana has accounted for right around 21% of the 48 tornado-related fatalities during this period.
This serves as another reminder of why taking every tornado warning seriously is imperative. While the chances of seeing another EF3 in this part of the state aren’t extremely high, low-end tornadoes can still cause enough damage to injure and possibly kill those in their path. May 17th was just another reminder of how destructive weather can be in Southern Louisiana.