NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Jefferson Parish emergency officials and the National Weather Service say a suspected tornado spotted at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport apparently touched down Tuesday in a field near a suburban neighborhood.
It was part of a line of severe weather passing through Southeast Louisiana. It is believed to be one of many wind storms and possible tornadoes sparked around the greater New Orleans area including possible sightings north of Lake Pontchartrain and west of the city in St. Charles Parish.
There were no reports of any injuries, but wind damage to homes and businesses has been reported. There were reports of cars damaged at a parking lot near the airport.
Ronald Myers lives across the street from New Mount Bethel Baptist Church in Kenner, where and he and his wife are members. He recalled the sky darkening and high winds - he believes it was a tornado. They came outside when they heard the church’s alarm go off.
“My wife came over to turn the alarm off and she came back home and said, ‘Baby, the wall behind the church has done fell down.’”
Myers is convinced it was a tornado. He said he struggled to keep his footing in the wind, and his wife was nearly knocked down.
“I weigh 242 pounds. If it could move me, it was moving,” he said.
The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, issued a tornado watch for southeast Louisiana effective until 5 p.m. Tuesday.
A watch means weather conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms capable of kicking up tornadoes.
Forecasters said the main area of concern is from Baton Rouge through the parishes north of Lake Pontchartrain.
Louisiana Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne ordered all state offices to close in 17 parishes: Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Washington, West Baton Rouge, West Feliciana.
The closures will affect early voting, which will reopen at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Schools in most of those parishes are also closed for the day.
Associated Press writer Kevin McGill in New Orleans contributed to this report.
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