RINGGOLD, La. (KTAL/KMSS) — It was both a terrifying and a beautiful sunset scene on Saturday evening when intense setting-sky colors seemed to swirl with funnel clouds, rain, wall clouds, and at least one National-Weather-Service-confirmed tornado.
“It was like fire and water. It reminded me of a volcano going into the ocean, the bright orange and the blue. And you could just see the clouds tumbling as it got above us,” said Michael Lee, an artist and photographer from Lincoln Parish who happened to be at Melrose Plantation selling his artwork when the skies let loose.
“The lightening was… I haven’t seen lightening like that in a long time,’ said Lee, uncharacteristically stuttering when he remembered the details of the storm he recorded in both photography and videography.
When asked if he was afraid of the storm, Lee said, “I was more intrigued but on the cautious and fearful side. I was thinking, ‘I know this isn’t safe, but I can’t stop watching.'”
Lee said he has never seen as big of a storm wall as the one he recorded on Saturday night, and Lee grew up in rural northern Louisiana. He is no stranger to severe thunderstorms.
But this one, he said, was different.
“It seemed like it was moving fast. It was insane,” he told KTAL.
A team from the National Weather Service was on the ground surveying damage around Ringgold on Sunday.
“Our survey team found a roughly 2 1/2 mile-long EF-1 tornado track. It began southwest of Ringgold with maximum estimated winds of 104 mph,” said Armani Cassell of NWS on Sunday afternoon.
The extent of the tornado’s damage is not currently known, but Cassell says there will be a public information statement released on Sunday evening.
Photos of the sunset storm from many different angles are being shared across social media as victims survey their losses on Sunday. When viewed together, these sunset thunderstorm photos, taken simultaneously by strangers from Natchitoches to Ringgold, show the enormity of storm systems that frequently shred their way across ArkLaTex skies.
One video, taken by Kenneth Hicks near Ringgold, shows the tornado as it is forming.
Michael Lee’s video of the storm was taken at approximately the same time as Kenneth Hicks was recording tornado video. But Natchitoches is more than 45 miles away from Ringgold.
It is not currently known how many people were mesmerized by the feelings of both fear and amazement as the natural world gave humans a sight they will not soon forget.
Strong storms can question the fragility of any human who stands against them.
Steven King once wrote, “The water was glassy and calm, still candy-colored in the afterglow of sunset.” But Steven King novels aren’t scary when compared to the ever-intensifying storms that kill men, women, and children across the South every year.
This is a developing story and more information will be provided as it is obtained.