|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.