Severe weather — including tornadoes, damaging winds and large hail — could impact the Southwest Louisiana area tonight and Saturday morning, officials with the National Weather Service office in Lake Charles said.
Meteorologist Donald Jones said an area of low pressure along with an accompanying cold front is expected to approach the area as early as mid-afternoon today.
"Severe storms will be possible along and ahead of the cold front Friday evening through Saturday morning," he said. "This does look like it will mainly be a night-time event."
Jones said ahead of the cold front will be "discreet cells" of individual storms.
"Those have the potential of becoming super cells, which are the storms that could potentially produce severe weather like tornadoes, damaging winds and large hail," Jones said.
He said the Storm Prediction Center has warned that some parts of Southwest Louisiana — including Fort Polk, Lake Charles, Oberlin and parts of Cameron — will have a higher risk for strong and long-lived tornadoes in the EF-2 or greater classification.
"Tornadoes will be possible, large hail will also be possible — and some areas may see hail up to two inches in diameter," he said. "There's going to be strong southernly winds and plenty of moisture for those storms to be working with. Moisture is like the gasoline or energy for thunderstorms, so there's going to be plenty of fuel for these storms to work with."
Jones said that at about mid-morning Saturday the severe weather threat should be over for Southwest Louisiana.
"The weekend itself is actually, for the most part, not looking all that bad once we get the front through, but the rain chances will be coming back for early next week," he said. "We're going to see a warm front lift itself out of the Gulf of Mexico and we're going to be in a wet pattern as the warm front kind of sits itself along the coast. We've had several days of nice weather, but unfortunately we're going to have to prep for some not-so-nice weather."