November 8, 2000

Sicily Island, Louisiana Tornado

Chase Account: Scott Blair
Chase Team: Scott Blair, Blake Michaleski.
A warm front stretched across Central into Northeast Louisiana by mid morning. An intense squall line had already developed over portions of Western Louisiana. Wind dynamics were quite favorable for severe storms and some rotation, especially near the warm front with strong surface east winds. Ample moisture was in place south of the boundary and instability looked moderate. Satellite showed decent surface heating across a few areas. SWEAT values were up to 350 early in the period with CAPE approaching 2500. Considering the tornado threat would be brief in the vicinity of the squall, I decided to target well ahead of the line. With the decent severe potential, higher instability, and weakening cap, I decided to target an area near Winnsboro, LA. The last look I got of radar around noon indicated some light showers developing near Alexandria. It was time to head out to the target area.

Blake Michaleski and I departed Monroe, LA around 12:30pm heading east on I-20. The temperature was 60 with overcast skies. We arrived at Rayville and took Highway 15 south. As we approached Winnsboro, a severe t-storm warning was issued for cell to the SW. The temperature had risen to 73 with strong east-southeast winds. By this time, we were out of range of all weather information. We would just have to go visual. We decided to continue south on Hwy15.

*** RFB and developing wall cloud near Sicily Island ***
As we continued southward, a tornado warning was issued for Catahoula Parish. We pulled off near a relatively open field 1 mile north of Sicily Island, LA. By 1:50pm, a very well formed rain free base was clearly back lighted. An intense precip shaft slid just to the west, leaving our location virtually rain free. It was obvious we were in the notch. The situation continued to grow interesting as a strong inflow jet / beaver tail developed and condensed, sending copious amounts of scud flying towards the updraft. Around 2pm, inflow winds dramatically increased and a violently rotating wall cloud developed. Within minutes, a large funnel cloud protruded downward, and formed a tornado 1/2mile east of Sicily Island, LA. The movement and rotation of the wall cloud and tornado was quite impressive. At times, a line of trees along the far horizon limited the ability to see the bottom of the tornado, however a few pieces of debris were visible flying from the tornado. We witnessed the tornado on the ground for at least 2-3 minutes, before the RFD blasted us with severe winds and very heavy rain.

*** Tornado moves just east of Sicily Island ***

In an attempt to reposition ourselves, we headed east out of Sicily Island on Highway 15. Within a mile of the turn, we crossed the tornado path where large debris covered the road. Several trees and large tree limbs littered the road for about a quarter mile. The supercell soon moved into an area of poor road networks.

We took Hwy65 north to intercept the storm. The updraft and associated convection was visible as we paralleled it towards the northeast. We finally got another view of the updraft base in NE Tensas Parish. The base still looked nice, but the tornado had dissipated several minutes before. The southern core of the supercell began to wrap around the updraft, which obscured our view.

*** Updraft area & precip core wrapping around base ***

We decided to make one last try to intercept the storm. We took I-20 towards Vicksburg, MS. As we passed through the city, tornado sirens sounded. We arrived rain free on the east side of the cell. We attempted to move northeast, but the road network and road quality were not favorable for progression. Therefore, we headed back to Vicksburg and called off the chase day at 4:30pm. We later ran into the original line of storms, but the overall intensity was not too impressive.

All in all, a classic Fall chase day. The tornado was officially rated an F2 with a 25 mile long path and 600 yard max width. Luckily no injuries were reported. The cell was actually warned under a tornado warning from 1:16pm-5:30pm. It was interesting to witness the evolution of the tornado. -Scott Blair

Base Reflectivity at 2:03pm
Radial Velocity at 1:45pm
Radial Velocity at 1:55pm
NWSFO JAN Storm Summary
Don Wheeler's Storm Summary

Event: Tornado - State: Louisiana - Parish: Catahoula
Begin Date: 08 Nov 2000, 01:58:00 PM CST
Begin Location: Sicily Island
End Date: 08 Nov 2000, 02:10:00 PM CST
End Location: 5 Miles North East of Sicily Island
Length: 4 Miles - Width: 500 Yards
Magnitude: F2 - Property Damage: $ 15.0K
Description: The garage of a house was significantly damaged. A shed and a trampoline were blown off of the property. The tornado exited Catahoula Parish and went into Franklin Parish.
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