Severe Weather Slams Northeast Louisiana
West Carroll Parish Tornado
Thursday, April 24, 2003

Severe thunderstorms and isolated tornadoes pounded the Ark-La-Miss region Thursday, April 24, 2003.  One confirmed tornado struck the tiny community of Floyd, Louisiana in West Carroll parish.  The thunderstorm that spawned the tornado originated over Jackson parish and moved east-northeast toward Ouachita.  Large hail developed with the storm as it cross Monroe at 3:10 PM.  Continuing northeast, the cell developed rotation over extreme northeast portions of Ouachita parish south of Swartz.  The Jackson (MS) NWS issued a tornado warning for Morehouse and northern Richland parishes.

The supercell storm continued to intensify racing off at 50-60 mph to the east-northeast.  After crossing into West Carroll parish, the storm produced a tornado southwest of the community of Darnell.  The small tornado continued on a steady track to the east-northeast approaching Louisiana Highway 17 two miles south of Darnell.  Here the storm demolished a mobile home (F1 - 73-112 mph).  After crossing highway 17, it severely damaged a home by toppling four large trees on top of it (F1 - 73-112 mph).  At this same site (photo site #1), a mobile home was displaced 16 feet from its original foundation.  The mobile home was tied down.  A small recreational vehicle was also displaced and rolled some 30 feet.  Debris was littered downwind of the storm for several hundred yards to the east-northeast.  Fortunately no one was home at either location.

The next target was an isolated home a few miles away (photo site #2).  This home narrowly escaped damage; however, large trees just a few feet away were uprooted (F1).  The tornado crossed a small strip of trees into a wheat field (photo site #3).  It appeared to be of F0 intensity here primarily breaking off larger branches of the trees.  Interesting wind patterns were left in the wheat.

Finally the tornado crossed another row of trees before emerging into a large field with Floyd in its sights.  The field was freshly planted with crops.  The tornado left a very distinct path through the field with green plants on either side of the scoured seedlings.  As the tornado crossed the field, the damage path narrowed to less than 50 yards.  Winds approaching F2 (113-157 mph) appeared to have been present (based on observation of home damage) at this point.  This intensification would certainly be consistent with the law of conservation of angular momentum.  As the storm's circulation tightened, the winds increased.

The narrow path of the storm produced some very interesting damage.  Homes appeared to have been split in half.  In two cases one half had relatively little damage while the other had it walls and roof blown away!  It looked as though someone had cut them with a large saw and scooped away one half.  One home was directly hit.  The tornado tore off over 3/4 of the roof and took away the front wall.  The occupants saw the storm approaching but had little time to take cover.  The front wall fell on top of them fortunately inflicting only minor injuries.  The occupant of another nearby house said the storm produced little sound and lasted only 30 seconds.

This tornado was indeed a very small and compact storm.  According to the preliminary reports from the Jackson NWS, the storm has been rated as F1 and had a damage path of approximately 11 miles.  The preliminary F1 intensity may be upgraded to F2 pending further field review.  The path width ranged from less than 50 yards to slightly over 100 yards.

Below and on linked pages are maps and photos from the four sites surveyed.  Richwood students Johntae Lee and Trey Whilhite provided excellent assistance in the survey with documentation, interviews, and camera operation.  A special thanks to Brad Farrington for his pics during the storm.

*A response by the National Weather Service in Jackson, Mississippi on 4/28/03 officially rated the West Carroll Parish tornado of 4/24/03 as an F2 storm with winds from 113-157 mph.

click the links below
Photo Site 1
Photo Site 2
Photo Site 3
Photo Site 4

Approximate track of tornado.  We could not reach the exact beginning or end of the track due to lack of roads.  Approximate length is 11 miles.

Radar imagery of the storm as it produced the tornado.  The left image is a composite view, the right image is radial velocity.  Note the intense red/green coupling.