Path length: 6.2 miles
Width: 400 yards
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.
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.”
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
Channel 12 Footage. Around :40, some audio, turn it up a bit.
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:
- 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.
“Preliminary Report of the Bossier City Tornado of December 3, 1978,” by Fujita, T. Theodore, Satellite and Mesometeorology Research Project Research Paper 169 – Photocopy with Ground and Aerial Damage Photographs (From Wind Science and Engineering Research Center, TTU), 1979.
Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991: A Chronology and Analysis of Events. St. Johnsbury, VT: The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. Page 1206.
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