Spring weather season ramps up - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Spring weather season ramps up

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New Orleans, La. - The New Orleans area gets another vivid reminder that springtime weather systems can pack a powerful punch.

Wednesday's fast-moving line of intense thunderstorms flooded streets, damaged houses and knocked out power to more than 30,000 people in southeast Louisiana.

The National Weather Service confirms a tornado did touch down along Transcontinental Drive in Metairie, and a survey of damage in a three-block area of West Loyola Drive in Kenner confirmed a second twister there.

In terms of intensity, the Kenner tornado ranked on the lower end of the enhanced Fujita scale. NWS describes it as an EF-1, with winds between 86 and 110 mph.  The damage would have been catastrophic in the event of an extremely rare EF-4 or EF-5.

FOX 8 Meteorologist Nicondra Norwood says the spring severe weather season ramps up in late March and continues through May, often spawning tornadoes, heavy rain and lots of lightning.

"We've been seeing fronts gets stronger and stronger as far as the severity of the thunderstorms, because we have the warm moist air in place," says Norwood.

The National Weather Service says it's ready for the challenge with its biggest upgrade in radar technology in almost 20 years.

"What's different about the new technology is it can see everything better. It can give us better definition. It can give us the difference in heavy rain and hail," says Norwood.

During the season, forecasters can give you about a day's warning for severe weather, but even the most advanced technology cannot predict every tornado and flash flooding event.

"That's why we talk so much about getting a weather radio. Sometimes, by the time you're hearing the weather outside, it's too late. Just make sure you're in a room without windows. If it's flooding, stay away from standing water," says Norwood.

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