Climate Data
Yearly Reports
Interested in what kind of weather occurred in a recent year? Check out the most memorable events below.
 
The NWS Tornado (April 3-4, 2008)
 
The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) indicated rotation from Cammack Village (Pulaski County) to northeast of Sylvan Hills (Pulaski County) between 953 pm CDT and 1019 pm CDT on 04/03/2008.
Ever been in a tornado before? A lot of people have said that a tornado sounds much like an approaching freight train. True, it does. That was verified during on April 3, 2008 around 10:10 pm...when a tornado narrowly missed the National Weather Service (NWS) building to the southeast.
In the picture: The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) indicated rotation from Cammack Village (Pulaski County) to northeast of Sylvan Hills (Pulaski County) between 953 pm CDT and 1019 pm CDT on 04/03/2008. "RDA" is the "Radar Data Acquisition" tower across the street from the National Weather Service office.

 

The local NWS office is located at the North Little Rock Airport (Pulaski County). During the evening of the 3rd, six staff members and two HAM radio operators were tracking a tornadic storm that was approaching the local area from the southwest. 

At around 9:55 pm CDT, the HAM radio operators got word that a tornado had just hit Cammack Village (Pulaski County)...or roughly 10 miles to the southwest of the NWS. Shortly after 10:00 pm CDT, the WSR-88D showed rotation over Burns Park (5 miles to the southwest). About that time, two staffers stepped outside...only to return wide-eyed. They heard a loud roar to the southwest.

While people at the office knew a tornado was coming, the focus was on getting information to the outside world. Where is the tornado now and where is it headed? That was what mattered at the time. Personal safety was an issue, but a bigger issue was to inform others so that they could protect themselves. People continued to work.

At 10:09 pm, the train was coming. The building started to shake a little and the windows rattled. Staffers had already been on the phone with the NWS office in Memphis, TN. It was thought that damage could be done, with communication lines lost. With Memphis backing up Little Rock, the word could still get out. It was time to go to the storm shelter.

A minute later, it was chaos outside. The train passed and ears were popping (due to fast pressure changes). It was hard to know what was going on outside while inside a concrete room. Would the building still be there once the door opened? The answer to the damage question was only a few seconds away.

 

Just as quickly as the tornado arrived, it was gone. It turns out that the center of the tornado passed within 500 yards of the office. There was a lot of damage nearby, with hangers destroyed and planes tossed. At the office, all that was lost was a flagpole and a birdhouse. A look at some of the damage at the North Little Rock Airport (Pulaski County) from the roof of the National Weather Service office (looking to the south).
In the picture: A look at some of the damage at the North Little Rock Airport (Pulaski County) from the roof of the National Weather Service office (looking to the south). Click to enlarge

 

As the tornado moved on to the northeast, it was time to go back to work. Everything seemed to be working OK, including the radar. The office was on generator power, and that was still going. A phone call to Memphis followed, and operations resumed. It was back to normalcy after such an abnormal experience...and a lucky one.

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