Apr 11, 2024 - News

Storms slam New Orleans metro with flooding rains, tornadoes

Photos shows a black SUV driving through a flooded street with a hotel in the background.

Many streets in downtown New Orleans flooded Wednesday. Photo: Courtesy of David Mora

Thunderstorms dumped 8 inches of rain Wednesday in parts of New Orleans, making roads impassible and putting the city at a standstill for hours.

Why it matters: It's another example of how New Orleans' infrastructure struggles during extreme weather events.

The big picture: The powerful storm system rolled through Louisiana yesterday, flooding streets, snapping trees and damaging property with 70mph+ winds.

  • Too much rain fell too quickly, and pumps were not able to keep up in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish, leaders said.
  • The Sewerage & Water Board also said it struggled to generate enough power to operate the pumps.
Photo shows South Carrollton Avenue flooded up to the buildings.
South Carrollton Avenue flooded Wednesday, April 10, 2024. Photo: New Orleans Police Department

Zoom in: St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper signed an emergency declaration last night after he said hundreds of homes were damaged, WDSU reports.

Injuries: Multiple people were injured in Slidell, leaders say, but their injuries were mainly minor, according to WWL.

  • No fatalities have been reported in Louisiana. The storm system did claim a life in Mississippi.

By the numbers: Laplace had the most rain with 9.89 inches, followed by Hollygrove with 8.02 inches and Metairie with 7.49 inches, according to the National Weather Service and S&WB.

  • Little Woods got 6.88 inches, while most of the east bank got at least 5.5 inches.

Tornadoes: The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down in Slidell near Old Spanish Trail, and another one hit north of St. Francisville.

Photo shows a man using a chainsaw to cut a fallen tree.
St. Tammany was hit hard and had several downed trees. Photo: St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office
  • Both were at least EF-1 tornadoes, and survey teams on Thursday plan to assess the path length, width and max wind speeds.
  • Another tornado hit Lake Charles.

Flooding: Streets were inundated across New Orleans and Jefferson Parish.

  • Cars stalled in the high water. A drone video showed Airline Highway completely flooded with stranded drivers.
  • Water also got in some homes in Metairie and threatened to overtop canals, according to Jefferson Parish officials.

Power outages: Entergy and Cleco both reported broken poles, downed power lines and damaged crossarms.

  • About 30,600 Entergy customers remained without power as of 9pm, according to the utility's outage map.
  • Calcasieu Parish and Lafayette were the hardest hit areas, Entergy says, and may not have power restored until Friday.
  • Cleco says about 23,000 customers in Slidell and Pearl River remain without power.

School closures: St. Tammany public schools remain closed Thursday as leaders assess building damage.

  • Other schools are back in session.

Damage estimates: Official damage reports are not available yet for this storm system.

💭 Thought bubble from Andrew Freedman, Axios' senior climate reporter: Conditions were ideal for heavy rainfall, damaging winds and tornadoes on Wednesday, as the NWS highlighted in high-end threat outlooks Tuesday and Wednesday.

  • Slow-moving thunderstorms "training" over the same areas resulted in the flooding across the region, exacerbated by New Orleans' preexisting challenges coping with heavy rainfall.
  • Climate studies show that extreme precipitation events are becoming more common and severe as the world warms, and the air carries more moisture.
Photo shows an SUV driving through Canal Street while it is flooded.
Canal Street flooded during Wednesday's storms. Photo: Courtesy of David Mora
Photo shows a flooded street in New Orleans.
Photo: New Orleans Police Department
Photo shows a Prius in a flooded ditch.
Photo: St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office
Photo shows a flooded street
Photo: St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office
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