Zachary tornado reported during storms

WBRZ Weather Radar at 530 p.m. Dec. 25.
WBRZ Weather Radar at 530 p.m. Dec. 25.

A tornado touched down in Zachary around 3:04 p.m., according to Zachary Police Chief David McDavid. Exact location is unknown but a tree has been reported down on a house on Fennwood Street and there is fence damage on La. 64.

Trees fell on a few houses in central Rapides Parish but there were no injuries reported so far and crews were cutting trees out of roadways to get to people in their homes, said sheriff’s Lt. Tommy Carnline. Possible damage also was reported near McNeil, Miss.

A few trees fell on Whitestown Road near La. 421 in the St. Francisville area, West Feliciana Parish Sheriff J. Austin Daniel said.

The trees fell sometime between 1 and 2 p.m. but were cleared within a couple hours, Daniel said.

The weather had already cleared by about 4:30 p.m., Daniel said.

Both the Baton Rouge Police department and the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s office reported they were not dealing with any storm related damage.

The Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office was checking out reports of wind damage — possibly from a tornado — at the north and south ends of the parish.

Lt. Tommy Carnline says that so far, deputies don’t have any reports of injuries in either the Tioga or the Cotile Lake area. He says deputies are still cutting trees out of roads to get to people who say trees fell on their houses.

Nearly all of south Louisiana and much of Mississippi was under a tornado watch Tuesday, with a flash flood watch over northeast Louisiana and most of Mississippi.

Donald Jones of the National Weather Service in Lake Charles says there are reports of trees down in every parish in his region.

More than 73,000 people in three states were without power at midafternoon Tuesday as a system of strong storms rolled through eastern Louisiana and into Mississippi. That was just counting reports from two utilities: Entergy Corp., which has customers in Arkansas, east Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, and Cleco Corp. in Louisiana.

Entergy’s website indicated nearly 33,800 without power in Arkansas, 19,700 in east Texas, 5,275 in Louisiana and 5,040 in Mississippi, for a total of nearly 64,000.

Cleco spokeswoman Robbyn Cooper said about 9,000 customers were without power at the height of the storm in central Louisiana, but the number was down to 8,300 by midafternoon. However, Cleco also serves some of the populous New Orleans suburbs above Lake Pontchartrain, where the storm was heading.

Parishes in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans area are under a tornado watch until 8 p.m. including the parishes of Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John The Baptist, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, Washington, West Baton Rouge and West Feliciana.

In other states:

Winds toppled a tree onto a pickup truck in the Houston area, killing the driver. Icy roads already were blamed for a 21-vehicle pileup in Oklahoma, where authorities warned would-be travelers to stay home. Fog blanketed highways, including arteries in the Atlanta area where motorists slowed as a precaution. In New Mexico, drivers across the eastern plains had to fight through snow, ice and low visibility.

Tornado watches are in effect in the Mobile, Ala., area until 10 p.m. with strong winds moving in ahead of a severe weather system that has already impacted areas of Louisiana and Mississippi.

A National Weather Service meteorologist based in Birmingham says a tornado watch is not in effect for the Birmingham area, although forecasters there are expecting damaging winds and hail in central Alabama.

Icy roads already were blamed for a 21-vehicle pileup in Oklahoma, where authorities warned would-be travelers to stay home. Fog blanketed highways, including arteries in the Atlanta area where motorists slowed as a precaution.

Entergy Arkansas reports more than 28,000 customers without power Tuesday, including 9,000 that happened in the span of 30 minutes.

The National Weather Service says the rain is forecast to turn to snow in central Arkansas.

Road conditions in western Arkansas vary from snowy to slushy to icy conditions. A blizzard watch was posted for parts of Indiana and western Kentucky for storms expected to unfold Tuesday amid predictions of up to 4 to 7 inches of snow in coming hours. Much of Oklahoma and Arkansas braced under a winter storm warning of an early mix of rain and sleet forecast to eventually turn to snow.

Some mountainous areas of Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains could get up to 10 inches of snow, which would make travel “very hazardous or impossible” in the northern tier of the state from near whiteout conditions, the National Weather Service said.

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Associated Press writer Bob Johnson in Montgomery, Ala., and Ken Miller in Oklahoma City, Okla., contributed to this report. www.theadvocate.com staff also contributed to this report.