SPC Stats

Path length: 6.2 miles

Width:  400 yards

Fatalities:  2

Injuries:  266

Rating:  F4

Parish:  Bossier

Thirteen tornadoes were recorded during the early morning hours of December 3, 1978. The strongest was an F4 tornado that developed at 1:50am CT in the Central Park area of Bossier City, LA.  In a summary from the NWS Shreveport, “The Bossier City tornado was spawned from a supercell thunderstorm which developed in Deep East Texas ahead of a squall line.”  Per Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes, the tornado developed near the point where an F2 tornado on April 17, 1978 ended.

It moved northeast crossing I-20 and affected businesses and homes along Benton Road and Airline Drive. It then moved into a sparsely populated area east of Airline Drive and north of US-80 and into the Meadowview area.

The tornado destroyed parts of Meadowview Elementary School. Several 700 lb. I-beam structures were carried several hundred feet and then “firmly planted into the ground.” On La Don Drive, there were two fatalities.  An automobile was tossed into a home killing sisters Jana Lynn and Lisa Renee Currington, ages 8 and 13 who were sleeping. 

The National Guard Armory was destroyed as well as the Northwest Louisiana State School. Home damage occurred in the Stockwell Place and Carriage Oaks area. The tornado lifted near Red Chute Bayou. Over $100 million in damage resulted from this tornado. 

Following the event, Ted Fujita, with colleagues Robert Abbey and James McDonald surveyed the damage. Working with Official-in-Charge Ernest Ethridge of the National Weather Service, an extensive areal and ground damage survey was completed.  

Via NWS Shreveport: Overview of the Bossier City tornado track. Colors indicate the tornado's intensity. (Modified from Fujita, 1979.)

From Fujita’s preliminary report after the survey:  “From a meteorological and engineering point of view, the Bossier City tornado has provided us with new knowledge on tornado winds:

  • “The infrared temperature and the area of the parent cloud were not as significant as that of other clouds in the squall line.”
  • “The six I-beams which supported the roof of the Meadowview Elementary School became airborne. The I-beam missiles, each weighing 700 lbs (300 kg), became lodged in the ground or house after traveling up to 350 m (1100 ft) from original locations.”
  • “The tornado was characterized by a high-core and a fast tangential velocity. In the Meadowview area, the core radius was reduced to 15 m (50 ft) while the maximum tangential velocity was estimated to be over 150 mph.”
  • “A 40 mph translation motion of the tornado will induce peak winds lasting only one to two seconds. Most of the structural damage must have been completed within such a short time.”  

Tornado Path

SPC coordinates:  Start: 32.5 / -93.75     End: 32.57 / -93.68

Corrected Coordiantes based on damage reports:

Start:  32.508903/-93.722699    End: 32.572496/-93.640887

Note:  The starting point is in Caddo Parish.  In the official record, only Bossier Parish is listed.

Note:  Exact tornado path may not be straight and/or continuous.

Photos from the NWS Shreveport Summary

National Weather Service-Longview, TX, radar image at 1:581m CST. The red circle highlights the supercell thunderstorm. A tornado is on the ground at this time in Bossier City.
Two girls sleeping in beds in the upper left house were killed by a car which fell onto them.
Airline Drive area. Pointed roof of the Whataburger is left untouched. Estimated upper F3 to lower F4 winds.
The south wing of Meadowview Elementary School.
Destruction at the Best Western Bossier Inn. View from the ground.
One of several 700-pound I-beams stuck deep into the ground by the tornado.
Former Official-in-Charge Ernest Ethridge surveying tornado damage with Dr. Ted Fujita.

Videos

Channel 12 Footage.  Around :40, some audio, turn it up a bit. 

Newspaper Clippings

Discrepancies:

We gathered information for this event from the SPC & NCDC Databases, the December 1978 Storm Data Publication and Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes and found the following differences:

Path Length:

  • SPC/NCDC have a 6.2 mile path length.
  • Grazulis and Storm Data have a length at 8 miles.

Parishes in Path:

  • Grazulis includes Caddo Parish in path.
  • The starting latitude and longitude given by the SPC for the path places the start point in Caddo Parish.
  • Remaining sources only list Bossier Parish.

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