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UPDATE: National Weather Service says at least five tornados hit Arkansas on Sunday night

A graph shows the path of storms through Arkansas on Sunday night.
National Weather Service
A graph shows the path of storms that moved through Arkansas on Sunday night into Monday morning.


The National Weather Service has determined five tornadoes moved through Arkansas on Sunday night into Monday morning. Survey crews have been assessing damage this week from the powerful storms that brought rotating winds to the state, allowing tornadoes to form.

In an interview with KUAR News on Monday, Meteorologist Dennis Cavanaugh with the Little Rock National Weather Service office detailed the path of the supercell thunderstorms.

“We started off [in the Sunday] afternoon hours with a couple of supercell thunderstorms. Supercells are those types of thunderstorms that are rotating as the air rises,” Cavanaugh explained, saying that is what usually allows tornados to form.

He said there was a supercell storm that moved across much of Arkansas. It started in Logan and Johnson County, near the city of Dover, and moved northeast until Randolph County, traveling at least 150 miles. That storm was “probably responsible for the bulk of the damage,” Cavanaugh said.

The service uses the Fujita Scale to determine the size and severity of a tornado. It was confirmed on Monday that three tornadoes hit the state, the Little Rock office of the National Weather Service said on Twitter. By Thursday, it was determined at least two more had hit the state.

One was categorized as an EF-2 tornado, meaning the tornado was “strong” and caused “considerable damage.” The tornado touched down for 11 miles in Izard County, and moved with estimated wind speeds of 120 mph.

An EF-2 tornado destroyed a "modular home” and injured several people. The third tornado left significant damage in Pope Country, the National Weather Service said on Twitter.

Damage to a home in Pleasant Valley in Pope County from a tornado that hit on Sunday night.
National Weather Service
Damage to a home in Pleasant Valley in Pope County from a tornado that hit on Sunday night.

Another tornado was in southwest Arkansas County and was also an EF-1 tornado. Crews confirmed an EF-2 tornado occurred near Izard and Sharp County, producing considerable damage and had wind speeds ranging from 111 to 135 mph.


He noted the peak of the severe weather season is between April in May, but it begins in late March, so Arkansans should be prepared for more hazardous weather. The best way to be ready, Cavanaugh said, is to have several ways of receiving weather alerts like local television and radio stations, social media, or with a weather radio. He said tornado sirens are not a reliable way of receiving warnings.

“The important thing is to have multiple ways because any one method of sending out warnings can and do fail,” Cavanaugh said. “I know a lot of bigger communities… have warning sirens or tornado sirens, as some people call them. You can probably hear them clearly Wednesday at noon on clear weather days, but during a thunderstorm with the winds howling and the rain hitting your roof, you might not hear those.”

Receiving weather warnings is important, but so is understanding the warnings, Cavanaugh said. A tornado watch is when all the ingredients are there to create a tornado, but have not combined. A tornado warning is when there is a tornado and action needs to be taken immediately.

“The best action you can take,” Cavanaugh said, “is to get underground or to an approved storm shelter. That’s the best place to go.”

The next best option is to go to the lowest level of a building and get in the center, putting as many walls as possible between a person and the outside so that infrastructure can absorb most of the damage.

Remington Miller was an intern at KUAR News as part of the George C. Douthit Endowed Scholarship program. She later worked as a reporter and editor for the station.
Josie Lenora is the Politics/Government Reporter for Little Rock Public Radio.