A rough-weather day has already started across the Baton Rouge area, with at least one suspected tornado reported and multiple other warnings issued in the region before sun-up.
Tangipahoa Parish President Robby Miller said as of 7:30 a.m. Wednesday a suspected tornado in the Independence area had downed one tree and pulled the metal awning from a home, but largely avoided structure damage in the area.
Baton Rouge's Westminster neighborhood sustained damage just before 5 a.m. with multiple trees downed and debris across roadways. At least one large tree fell on a home on North Maiden Drive.
Amy Waters, a resident in the area, said her family was woken by the storm a few minutes before their phones started alerting them to a tornado warning.
"It sounded like debris was beating down on our house and by the time I realized what was happening it had already passed," she said. "The tornado warning went off about five minutes later. It all happened so fast and we were asleep."
East Baton Rouge Public Schools spokeswoman Taylor Gast said Westminster Elementary School had minor damage, including the skirt of a FEMA trailer and vents from the roof blown off and two small gutters damaged.
The Westminster storm had been near where Essen Lane crosses Interstates 10 and 12 in the southeastern part of Baton Rouge. The storm headed northeast, but weakened to the degree that the National Weather Service was comfortable enough to drop the warning less than 30 minutes later.
Forecasters said a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado was near Livingston and moving toward Montpelier in St. Helena Parish before 6 a.m. Another cell capable of producing a tornado was reported in northeastern East Baton Rouge Parish and moving into rural adjoining parts of East Feliciana, Livingston and St. Helena parishes.
At 5:30 a.m., forecasters issued another tornado warning for largely rural areas northeast of Baton Rouge.
The storms produced large amounts of dangerous lightning, and heavy rains. There were no immediate reports of injuries. Entergy reported 2,800 power outages in neighborhoods on either side of Interstate 12 from the Westminster area to Cedarcrest to South Harrells Ferry Road.
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Because tornadoes are difficult to see at night, forecasters had warned residents to take cover if they are in the path of the storm, rather than wait until they see or hear the storm.