MONROE, La. (AP) — A storm system sweeping across the central U.S. brought strong winds and even small tornadoes to northern Louisiana, where roofs were ripped from barns and uprooted trees felled power lines, local officials said late Saturday. No injuries were reported.
Tens of thousands of residents lost electricity after strong gusts of up to 60 mph — nearly tornado strength — and heavy rain whipped the northern part of the state.
National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Adams said radar estimates show some areas of north Louisiana received as much as three inches of rain, although gauges in Shreveport and Monroe recorded much less.
High winds ripped the front facade off the Books-a-Million bookstore in Monroe. The area in front of the store was full of storm debris.
To the northwest in Union Parish, Sheriff Dusty Gates said damage was widespread across the parish of 28,000 residents. Trees fell on houses, across roads and on power lines. No injuries were reported by late Saturday, although some areas were cut off and not accessible due to bad weather conditions.
"There are still several areas we have not been able to access to check on," he said.
National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Parker says a possible tornado hit the town of Downsville mid-afternoon on Saturday. The Weather Service has yet to confirm it was a twister.
Downsville Mayor Reggie Skains said that a number of barns and chicken houses were damaged on the edge of his village of 250 people, including a barn on his farm.
"We had about a $500,000 barn over there and it blew about half of it away," Skains said by phone.
Downsville resident Albert Mayo said he was napping when the storm came through.
"I thought the roof was going to come off, there was so much pressure," Mayo said in a phone interview.
More than 40,000 customers lost power in northern parts of the state. Claiborne Electric Cooperative saw more than half of its 23,000 customers lose power when a transmission line was blown down, disrupting power to three substations. Office Manager Candy Hicks said outages were worst in Union Parish.
Entergy reported more than 17,000 customers without power, with outages concentrated around Ruston and Monroe. Southwestern Electric Power Co. said nearly 9,000 customers lost power at the peak of the storm, with the worst damage south of Shreveport. Cleco Corp. reported 3,000 outages in its central Louisiana territory.
Numerous trees were blown over, including one that fell across Interstate 20 near Gibsland.
In Mississippi, a mobile home overturned in Rena Lara, Miss., said Coahoma County emergency management director Johnny Tarzi. No information was immediately available on whether there were injuries.
The National Weather Service said severe storms with damaging winds were possible early Sunday morning in northern Georgia, including Atlanta.
AP reporter Lush reported from Monroe, La. Jeff Amy reported from Jackson, Miss.