KEITHVILLE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The deadly tornado that tore through the rural Northwest Louisiana community of Keithville Tuesday packed estimated winds of 130 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
NWS storm survey teams headed out at first light Wednesday to assess the damage caused by the line of storms that moved through the ArkLaTex Tuesday afternoon, killing a mother and her young son.
According to the NWS survey findings, the Keithville tornado “quickly developed shortly after crossing into Caddo Parish” from Texas, touching down at 4:36 p.m. six miles WNW of Keatchi and continuing more than three and a half miles before it lifted six miles NNW of Keachie, cutting a path 700 yards wide directly through the Pecan Farms neighborhood along Pecan Road near Four Forks.
As the tornado crossed Keatchi-Marshall Road, it quickly strengthened, tearing through a number of hardwood and softwood trees before tracking through Rita and Laurie Ann streets and causing more damage to trees and minor damage to homes. The tornado continued on toward a number of manufactured homes as it moved near and across Pecan Road, with winds estimated at 130 mph. It destroyed four single-wide mobile homes as it approached Lareta Street, where it destroyed two more mobile homes.
As it crossed Lareta, the NWS says, the tornado lifted a double-wide manufactured home and tossed it to the north and east with two people inside that did not survive. One was the 30-year-old woman now identified as Yoshiko A. Smith. The other was her 8-year-old son, Nikolus. Yoshiko was thrown an estimated 200 yards to where she was found on Paula Road. The little boy was thrown an estimated 500 to 600 yards to the north. His body was found in a wooded area late Tuesday night.
Two others were injured on Pecan Road as the tornado continued to the northeast, damaging more trees to the west of Four Forks Road before crossing Hwy 169 just south of Small Road and lifting.
Tornadoes are measured using an Enhanced Fujita scale (EF Scale). The EF Scale was developed based on damage intensity which can range from an EF-0 to an EF-5.
An EF3 tornado is classified as strong, with winds of 136-165 miles per hour, causing severe damage, including destruction to roofs and some walls torn from well-constructed houses; trains overturned; most trees in forested areas uprooted; heavy cars lifted and thrown.
An EF4 is classified as violent, with winds of 166-200 mph, causing devastating damage. An EF5 features winds in excess of 200 mph, causing incredible damage.