Skip to Content

Bossier City, LA Tornado, Dec 1978

Bossier City LA tornado Dec 1978 3.jpg Bossier City LA tornado Dec 1978 2.jpg Bossier City LA tornado Dec 1978 1.jpg

TWISTERS KILL FOUR.

Bossier City, La. (UPI) -- Rare December tornadoes spawned by unseasonably warm weather dropped like bombs across norther Louisiana and souther Arkansas Sunday, killing four people, injuring hundreds more and causing more than $100 million in property damage.
The tornadoes struck in the predawn darkness out of a thick line of thunderstorms, leaving a trail of destruction from the red-clay banks of the Red River to the industrial community of El Dorado, Ark., 100 miles northeast.
The worst hit of the half-dozen southern communities was Bossier City in northwest Louisiana, across the Red River from Shreveport. State police said two young girls were killed there and more than 180 people were injured, at least three dozen severely.
More than 1,500 people were left homeless.
A third death was reported in the nearby farm community of Heflin, La., where six people were injured.
A fourth person was killed in El Dorado when her frame house was demolished by a dozen trees uprooted by the tornadoes. Another half-dozen were injured there.
Officials called the low death toll "a miracle."
"The amazing thing about this disaster is the amount of damage to buildings -- the structural damage throughout the area -- and the so few casualties," said Maj. Gen. O. J. Daigle, Jr., of the Louisiana National Guard.
"When you fly over and see some of these houses completely dismantled, you wonder (how so few died)."
Both Daigle and Bossier City Mayor Marvin E. Anding said the twister did at least $100 million in damage, and Anding said only divine intervention could have kept the death toll so low.
"He (God) must have been with us," Anding said.
"I can't believe we only had two deaths with the miserable, miserable mess we have out there."
The Bossier City tornado leveled a nearly vacant motor hotel on the city's east side near the horse racing track, injuring about 60 persons. A week earlier before the end of the racing season, the hotel, the city's largest, would have been packed with racing enthusiasts.
Anding also said some looters had been arrested, adding, "We are going to deal with these people as severely as possible."
National Guardsmen, armed with rifles and billy clubs, patrolled the area at nightfall. The mayor said a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew would be imposed for the city "until further notice."
The Bossier City storm struck at 1:50 a.m. CST Sunday, leveling homes, schools, trees and businesses in its 2-block wide, 8-mile long path.
Although tornadoes are rare in December, weather forecasters said the Gulf State area was ripe for them because of the unusually warm weather in the area the past week, with temperatures in the 80s and humidity near 90 percent.
National Weather Service forecaster Herbert Roseman noted that with such weather, "the tornadoes were an obvious end result."
Officials in Bossier worked in heavy rain throughout the night to rush supplies to the stricken areas, the worst being in the north and northeastern sections of the city.
Some of the worse destruction occurred in the neighborhood of an apartment complex where two girls were crushed by an automobile that was blown through their bedroom window. They were identified as LISA CURRINGTON, 15, and her sister, JANA, 8. Their parents were among the 34 injured.
In Heflin, where 25 homes were leveled by another tornado, police said CLARENCE PEARCE, JR., 40, was killed and six more, including PEARCE'S wife, were injured.
The El Dorado twister killed one woman, LURLENE HELMS, 53, and injured six others, all members of MRS. HELMS' family. Police said the winds drove a dozen pine and oak trees through her frame house trailer.
Another tornado ravaged Taylortown, La., southwest of El Dorado, causing few injuries but wiping out a large portion of the farming community. More damage was reported in Marianna, Ark.
Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards declared a state of emergency in his state and appealed to Washington for federal relief.
In Bossier City, VALERIE MUELLER said she was in bed when the tornado began its assault on the river city.
"I could hear the noise before it struck," she said.
"It was just like somebody screaming. It was a terrible loud noise. It was all over before you knew it."
DEBBIE THOMAS, 15, whose home was located in a hard-hit area of Bossier City, said, "The whole house kind of shook like something was rocking it."
She said she bolted from bed and grabbed a door knob. "I just held onto it until it stopped."
Although part of her house was torn away, she said, "I didn't even hear a crash. You could only hear the wind."

Galveston Daily News Texas 1978-12-04

Comments

Horrible Night

I remember it vividly so many years ago. I was 14 and was a sophomore at Airline High School when the tornado touched down. Fortunately our home was about 3 blocks away from the path. When it became daylight we attempted to find my sisters boyfriend and only found a slab. He was found safe except for a nail puncture in his foot. My younger sister cried when she saw her school(Meadowdale). There was a brand new community pool across from the school which was decimated also. It was so strange to see an entire street of nothing but concrete slabs where homes once were. It sounded exactly as people have described over and over just like a train next to you. It was only a miracle that there were only two deaths from this massive storm. Unfortunately, it was two young girls who were lost. I have experienced two other tornados in my lifetime, but nothing even close to the 1978 Bossier storm.

Bossier tornado of 1978

I remember being at a club called the 'Afro Cana' early that morning, I was around 18 or 19. It wasn't too long before the club was to close when all the lights went out, I remember everyone standing outside wondering what happened when we started hearing alot of sirens..my family lived on La Don st. I remember heading home and there were roadblocks everywhere, I couldn't get home. My mom was a nurse and she tried to help where she could, I also remember seeing that car in the house where the little girls died and often thought of their parents over the years wondering how they were doing.

Tornado 1978

I moved to Port Au Prince apartments in 1998, and the building I lived in was closest to I-20 and I could tell it had been ripped in half from that tornado from the spackle on the outside walls... crazy really the old pics are scary. When I lived there, the tornado went through Benton and tore up that trailer park on Hwy 3, Benton road and then went up to Cypress lake and tore up some houses there... it is scary to think about tornados... But remember ... they Always travel from the SouthWest and go NorthEast... ............

1978 Bossier City Tornado

Hi My Name Is Chris I Remember Living In Bossier City At That Time, I How Do Not Remember Whole Lot About The Tornado Because I Was Very Young At Time But But From What My Mom And Dad
Told Me They Lived With Me At The Port-An Prince Apartments In Bossier City One Thing I Kind Of Remember My Dad Putting Me Under The Bed And thats All I Remember.

bossier tornado

Your comment about December tornadoes as being rare is wrong, not for this part of the country.

First of all you apparently had not looked at the climatological history for damaging tornadoes across extreme East Texas, SW Arkansas and North Lousiana during the months of November and December.

On December 31, 1947 a deadly tornado struck Cotton Valley Louisiana killing several people

January 1, 1949 another deadly tornado struck Haynesville Louisiana killing more people and causing massive destruction.

November 15, 1987 tornado outbreak across NE Texas, SW Arkansas eastward across into Central Mississippi killed several people and caused major damage. Flash flooding followed the tornadic storms.

Their are several other instances of tornadoes occurring during the late fall and Winter months across these areas. As a matter of fact the f-3 and f-4 ratings across these areas according to climate stats indicate that are just as frequent as they can be during the main tornado months of March, April and May. Down here in the south and especially across north Louisiana we actually have a second tornado season that runs from November through early January.

Sincerely
Billy Andrews
Coop Weather Observer for 34 years
Shreveport Louisiana

bossier tornado

To the person that said that there was no warning that the storm was coming was false. Yes their in fact was a warning on the storm. A tornado warning was issued around 1:35am on December 3rd 1978. The storm was in the developing stages when it stayed aloft over the southern hills section of Shreveport that night. At the time I was 20 years old, today I'm 53.

Tornado

I to remember. I was living at the Nest Apt in Shreevesport and was stationed at Barksdale AFB. as a crew chief on B-52s. I remember having the windows cracked open because it was so warm, I heard what sounded like a train go over the aptments and thought it was really strange because there were no trains near me ??? I was going rabbitt hunting with a friend that morning and when I crossed the Red River bridge I was directed through the base because of all the devistation In Boiser city . We found debris from the tornado all the way out in Bodcau where we were hunting it was a shame those two young girls were killed . I was suprised alot more people didnt die considering the time of morning that it hit.

Tornado

It's hard to believe that it's been over 30 years since the F4 tornado that hit Bossier City, La.. I lived in the Port-Au- Prince Apts. Sometimes, I have terrible nightmares about that night always wondering how we survived in a up-stairs apartment. I remember my son waking us up because the thunder and lightening were so loud as he crawled into our bed in the next room I went to check on his baby sister in the other room. I remember looking out the window trying to figure out what was making such a horrible sound outside the window and as I turned back around the double glass window just exploded in to many pieces many of them hitting my body..I grabbed my baby out of the crib and hit the floor laying on top of her.. it was the roar that was so frightening as minutes went by I can recall the feeling of bricks hitting my body and praying that I would survive with my family.. I remember just getting up and trying to figure out what had just happened and trying to get to the other bedroom where my son and his Dad had taken cover.. We had no Warning this storm was coming on December 3, 1978 at 1:50am..thankfully my family survived this F4 tornado..it has changed my life.

I was there too.

Myself and my Sister Scarlett lived at 1500 Ladon. right on the corner. My sister babysat those two little girls I remember they had red hair. I also remember they had a little white puppy. I was staring out my broken bedroom window in complete terror when I actually saw the car flying down the road which flew into their room. I did not actually see it crash into their house, but I will NEVER forget the enormous sparks it made as it was skipping across the road.

1978 Tornado

We also lived in BC and experienced the 1978 tornado. We had gone shopping earlier that day and the sidewalks were wet even tho no rain had falled. It was like the moisture came up from the ground and I remember commenting to my daughter about it. While watching the 10 pm news, the weatherman commented that he could not figure out why the temp had arose 30 deqrees since he had prepared his data for the forecast, and I remember thinking how strange that was at 10:30. We lived on Burdine St and an I-beam from the elementary school landed across our bed. Thankfully, I told my husband that it sounded like a train and said lets get out of here, I ran and grabbed our daughter and we threw ourselves in the hallway just as it hit our home. It made such noise I then thought a bomb had hit us and for some strange reason I tried to crawl out the window but my husband grabbed me and pulled me back in. We then all started itching real bad and figured out it was from the insulation falling on us. I lit a kerosene lamp and the rescue crew said its a wonder I didn't blow us all up because there was a gas leak. WE had just bought our home two months prior and I can recall a neighbor saying it was an " Act of God" and would not be covered under insurance. My daughter also went to school with the Currington girls and she took it hard as well. The I-Beam weighed 6 tons and had to be cut into six pieces to be removed from our bedroom. Our car was in the carport and all the windows were blown out of it. I'll never forget the pretty roses blooming on the carport lattice but then it got freezing cold right after the tornado and they all froze still blooming. The homes on either side of us did not receive damage. We moved to an apartment for about three or four months while our home was repaired. It was some ordeal and hope I never have to experience another one.



article | by Dr. Radut