Historic Weather Events
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Several historic events (Severe and Winter weather) have occurred in Arkansas since this website was started in 1996. These events are documented below.
 
Stone-Izard County Tornado (April 14, 1996)
 
The Stone-Izard County Tornado tracked 40 miles through rugged terrain on 04/14/1996. During the evening of April 14, 1996, a violent tornado moved through Stone and Izard Counties of North Central Arkansas, causing $7.5 million in damage and killing 7 people. It was the deadliest tornado of the year in the United States.
In the picture: The Stone-Izard County Tornado tracked 40 miles through rugged terrain on 04/14/1996.

 

Along its 40 mile path, the tornado destroyed at least 20 homes and several businesses. The town of Melbourne (Izard County) was one of the hardest hit areas, with major damage at a car dealership, a college auditorium, and a housing project. Fortunately, the tornado claimed no lives locally. A house was destroyed 3.5 miles southwest of Allison (Stone County) along South Sylamore Creek.
In the picture: A house was destroyed 3.5 miles southwest of Allison (Stone County) along South Sylamore Creek.

 

A camping trailer was overturned at a recreational area near Allison (Stone County). Most of the fatalities occurred away from population centers such as Melbourne (Izard County). Six (6) lives were lost near the neighboring towns of Allison (Stone County) and Sylamore (Izard County), which are along the banks of the White River (separating the two counties).
In the picture: A camping trailer was overturned at a recreational area near Allison (Stone County).

 

Just southwest of Allison (Stone County), four (4) people were killed at a campground. At the campground, recreation vehicles were either tossed into South Sylamore Creek (which empties into the White River) or overturned and crushed by falling trees. Another death (1) occurred 3.5 miles southwest of Allison (Stone County).

 

Just south of Sylamore (Izard County), two (2) more lives were taken when a house was removed from its foundation, with the bodies thrown several hundred feet.  A house was wiped from its foundation in Riverside subdivision along the White River just south of Sylamore (Izard County).
In the picture: A house was wiped from its foundation in Riverside subdivision along the White River just south of Sylamore (Izard County). Two deaths occurred here.

 

Before this event, no tornado deaths had occurred in Stone County since 1929...or in Izard County since 1936.

 

Chronology of Events
 

Time: 700 pm CDT

The LZK (Little Rock, AR NEXRAD site) WSR-88D showed a severe thunderstorm with strong circulation (via the 0.5 degree Storm Relative Velocity Map) nearing the Stone County line from the west. At this time, a Tornado Warning was issued for Stone County, and was valid until 745 pm CDT. The warning mentioned that the storm would track between the towns of Fox and Timbo.

Time: 712 pm CDT

No reports of tornadic activity had been received until this time, when funnel clouds were spotted at Timbo and reported by amateur radio operators (HAMs).

Time: 720 pm CDT

With radar continuing to show good storm rotation, a Severe Weather Statement (SVS) was issued and addressed to Stone County. The statement mentioned that the radar showed "strong indications of a tornado near Timbo." The statement also mentioned that the tornado would move just north of Newnata, and then between Allison and Fifty-Six.

Time: 725 pm CDT

While radar velocity products may have justified a Tornado Warning for Stone County, there were no confirmations of a touchdown through this time. A call was placed to the Stone County Sheriff's Office (SO) to see if there were any sightings of a tornado. The SO had just received a report of a tornado near Newnata.

Time: 733 pm CDT

With a tornado now confirmed, another SVS was written for Stone County. The SVS mentioned where the tornado was, and stated that it was headed toward (or just north of) Allison.

About the time the SVS was issued, a damage report was called in by a HAM. The caller said that trees were down on cars, with homes damaged 3 miles north of Fox in Stone County (between Fox and Timbo). The damage occurred around 712 pm CDT.

Also, the 0030 UTC (730 pm CDT) 0.5 degree Storm Relative Velocity Map (SRM) became available. The SRM now showed two circulations within the Stone County storm. The original circulation (where the tornado was spawned) was in the process of weakening, with a new area of rotation (about 3 miles southwest of Allison) increasing in strength.

Time: 737 pm CDT

As a new tornado got organized to the southwest of Allison, a Tornado Warning was posted for Izard County until 815 pm CDT. To help stress that this was a dangerous situation, storm reports were included in the warning (i.e. damage 3 miles north of Fox and a tornado sighting near Newnata). The storm was given a track toward Melbourne.

Time: 738 pm CDT through 740 pm CDT

The tornado strengthened markedly as it moved through Allison at 738 pm CDT. With an F4 rating, the tornado crossed the White River into Sylamore (Izard County) at 740 pm CDT. While major damage was occurring and lives were being lost, none of this was known at the time. There were no calls from the public, and the only thing that could be trusted was the radar data (and the sketchy details that were known).

Time: 745 pm CDT

The 0042 UTC (742 pm CDT) SRM had just become available. This product showed 40 to 50 knots of shear just to the northeast of Sylamore (a strong mesocyclone). At this time, a call was placed to the Izard County SO. The SO was told that a tornado was headed along Highway 9 toward Melbourne, and it looked like it had just moved through Sylamore.

The SO was well aware of the storm, and said that ambulances were en route to Sylamore.

Time: 755 pm CDT

An SVS was disseminated for Izard County. The SVS addressed the tornado, the destruction at Sylamore, and the track toward Melbourne. The statement also mentioned that this was a dangerous storm, and that "people in its path need to take cover now."

Time: 800 pm CDT

The tornado arrived in the eastern sections of Melbourne, damaging homes and businesses. Again, the radar continued to indicate a tornado, but there were no reports from the public (in Melbourne) until later that evening.

Time: 808 pm CDT

The 0105 UTC (805 pm CDT) SRM showed over 50 knots of shear to the northeast of Melbourne (a strong mesocyclone). The warning for Izard County was to expire in 7 minutes.

Time: 815 pm CDT

The Tornado Warning for Izard County was extended until 900 pm CDT. The warning included the eastern part of the county, and northern Sharp County (the adjacent county to the east). The tornado was given a track toward Horseshoe Bend (northeast Izard County) and Ash Flat (northern Sharp County).

Time: 822 pm CDT

Trees were reported down near Franklin (northeast Izard County). On radar, the storm was rapidly weakening as it moved northeast, with no further damage noted in Izard and Sharp Counties. No additional warnings or statements were issued for this storm.

 

Products Issued Prior to and During the Event
 

Severe Weather Statement Issued Prior to the Event (230 pm CDT)

ARZ003>007>012-016-020>025-030>034-037>047-052>057-062>069-142030-
                
SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LITTLE ROCK AR
230 PM CDT SUN APR 14 1996
        
...TORNADO WATCHES NOW COVER ALL OF ARKANSAS...
                
A TORNADO WATCH WILL REMAIN IN EFFECT UNTIL 8 PM FOR EASTERN
ARKANSAS...WHILE THE REST OF THE STATE WILL BE COVERED BY A TORNADO
WATCH UNTIL 6 PM.
                
AT 225 PM...A BAND OF SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS EXTENDED FROM GREERS
FERRY LAKE TO THE LITTLE ROCK AREA TO 15 MILES EAST OF PINE BLUFF AND
THEN ON INTO THE SOUTHEAST CORNER OF THE STATE.
                        
ALTHOUGH THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY IS PRESENTLY CONFINED TO CENTRAL AND
EASTERN PARTS OF ARKANSAS...THERE IS STILL A GOOD POSSIBILITY THAT SOME
THUNDERSTORMS WILL REDEVELOP IN THE WESTERN PART OF THE STATE DURING THE
NEXT FEW HOURS.
                
DRIER AIR AND AN AREA OF LOW PRESSURE ALOFT WILL BE PUSHING IN FROM THE
WEST. THIS COULD VERY WELL CAUSE NEW THUNDERSTORMS TO FORM IN THE
WESTERN PART OF THE STATE...WHERE THE AIR IS BECOMING WARMER AND THE AIR
MASS IS BECOMING INCREASINGLY UNSTABLE.
        

Updated Zone Forecast Product for Stone and Izard Counties (627 pm CDT)

ARKANSAS ZONE FORECASTS
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LITTLE ROCK AR
627 PM CDT SUN APR 14 1996

ARZ004>008-013>017-023>025-150400-
BAXTER-CLEBURNE-FULTON-INDEPENDENCE-IZARD-JACKSON-LAWRENCE- 
MARION-RANDOLPH-SEARCY-SHARP-STONE-VAN BUREN-
627 PM CDT SUN APR 14 1996

...TORNADO WATCH IN EFFECT UNTIL 1 AM CDT...
.TONIGHT...A 60 PERCENT CHANCE OF THUNDERSTORMS...SOME POSSIBLY SEVERE.  
BECOMING FAIR AND TURNING COLDER AFTER MIDNIGHT. LOW FROM 45 TO 50. 
WIND SHIFTING TO THE WEST AND INCREASING TO 10 TO 20 MPH. 
.MONDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY...WINDY AND COOL WITH A 30 PERCENT CHANCE OF 
SHOWERS. HIGH FROM 55 TO 60. NORTHWEST WIND 15 TO 25 MPH.  
.MONDAY NIGHT ...CLEAR AND COLD. LOW FROM 35 TO 40.  
.TUESDAY...SUNNY AND MILD. HIGH IN THE MID 60S.

Tornado Warning for Stone County (700 pm CDT)

LITTORLIT
TTAA00 KLIT 150001
ARC137-150045-

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LITTLE ROCK AR
700 PM CDT SUN APR 14 1996

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN LITTLE ROCK HAS ISSUED A TORNADO WARNING 
EFFECTIVE UNTIL 745 PM CDT FOR PEOPLE IN THE FOLLOWING LOCATION...

IN NORTH CENTRAL ARKANSAS
...STONE COUNTY

AT 659 PM CDT...DOPPLER WEATHER RADAR INDICATED A POSSIBLE TORNADO JUST NORTH 
OF DENNARD...MOVING NORTHEAST AT 35 MPH. THIS MOVEMENT WILL TAKE THE STORM 
BETWEEN FOX AND TIMBO.

DO NOT USE YOUR CAR TO TRY TO OUTRUN A TORNADO. CARS ARE EASILY TOSSED AROUND 
BY TORNADO WINDS. IF YOU ARE CAUGHT IN THE PATH OF A TORNADO...LEAVE THE CAR 
AND GO TO A STRONG BUILDING. IF NO STRUCTURE IS NEARBY...SEEK SHELTER IN A 
DITCH OR LOW SPOT.

Severe Weather Statement for Stone County (720 pm CDT)

LITSVSLIT
TTAA00 KLIT 150021
ARZ014-150045-

SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LITTLE ROCK AR
720 PM CDT SUN APR 14 1996

...RADAR INDICATES A TORNADO NEAR TIMBO...

AT 717 PM CDT...DOPPLER WEATHER RADAR WAS SHOWING STRONG INDICATIONS 
OF A TORNADO NEAR TIMBO IN STONE COUNTY.

A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR STONE COUNTY UNTIL 745 PM CDT.

THE STORM WAS MOVING TO THE NORTHEAST AT 35 MPH. THIS MOVEMENT WILL 
TAKE IT JUST NORTH OF NEWNATA...AND THEN ON TO BETWEEN ALLISON AND 
FIFTY-SIX. THERE WAS A PUBLIC REPORT OF A FUNNEL CLOUD NEAR TIMBO 
AT 711 PM CDT.

Severe Weather Statement for Stone County (733 pm CDT)

LITSVSLIT
TTAA00 KLIT 150034
ARZ014-150045-

SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LITTLE ROCK AR
733 PM CDT SUN APR 14 1996

...TORNADO REPORTED IN STONE COUNTY...

AT 725 PM CDT...THE STONE COUNTY SHERIFFS OFFICE RECEIVED A REPORT OF A 
TORNADO ON THE GROUND JUST NORTH OF NEWNATA...IN AN AREA KNOWN AS HAPPY 
HOLLOW.

A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR STONE COUNTY UNTIL 745 PM CDT.

THE STORM WAS MOVING TO THE NORTHEAST AT 35 MPH. THIS MOVEMENT WILL TAKE 
THE TORNADO JUST NORTH OF ALLISON.

Tornado Warning for Izard County (737 pm CDT)

LITTORLIT
TTAA00 KLIT 150037
ARC065-150115-

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LITTLE ROCK AR
737 PM CDT SUN APR 14 1996

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN LITTLE ROCK HAS ISSUED A TORNADO WARNING 
EFFECTIVE UNTIL 815 PM CDT FOR PEOPLE IN THE FOLLOWING LOCATION...
IN NORTH CENTRAL ARKANSAS

...IZARD COUNTY

AT 734 PM CDT...DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A POSSIBLE TORNADO 5 MILES NORTHWEST 
OF MOUNTAIN VIEW. MOVEMENT WAS NORTHEAST AT 35 MPH. THIS MOVEMENT WILL TAKE 
THE STORM JUST SOUTH OF MOUNT OLIVE AND TOWARD MELBOURNE.

A TORNADO WAS REPORTED ON THE GROUND JUST NORTH OF NEWNATA IN STONE COUNTY 
AT 725 PM CDT. DAMAGE WAS REPORTED 3 MILES NORTH OF FOX AT 712 PM CDT.

IF YOU ARE IN THE PATH OF A TORNADO...THE SAFEST PLACE IS A BASEMENT. GET 
UNDER A WORKBENCH OR PIECE OF STURDY FURNITURE. IF NO BASEMENT IS AVAILABLE...
SEEK SHELTER IN AN INTERIOR ROOM SUCH AS A CLOSET ON THE LOWEST FLOOR. USE 
BLANKETS...PILLOWS...OR CUSHIONS TO COVER YOUR BODY. AVOID WINDOWS.

Severe Weather Statement for Izard County (755 pm CDT)

LITSVSLIT
TTAA00 KLIT 150056
ARZ015-150115-

SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LITTLE ROCK AR
755 PM CDT SUN APR 14 1996

...TORNADO DAMAGE REPORTED IN IZARD COUNTY...

A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 815 PM CDT FOR IZARD COUNTY.

AT 751 PM CDT...DOPPLER WEATHER RADAR CONTINUED TO SHOW A TORNADO 5 MILES 
NORTHEAST OF SYLAMORE...NEAR HIGHWAY 9. MOVEMENT WAS TO THE NORTHEAST AT 
35 MPH. THIS MOVEMENT WILL CONTINUE TO TAKE THE TORNADO NEAR HIGHWAY 9...
AND IT WILL PASS THROUGH OR JUST TO THE SOUTH OF MELBOURNE.

THE SHERIFFS OFFICE IN IZARD COUNTY REPORTS THAT DAMAGE AND INJURIES HAVE 
OCCURRED IN SYLAMORE.

THIS CONTINUES TO BE A VERY DANGEROUS STORM. PEOPLE IN ITS PATH NEED TO 
TAKE COVER NOW.

Tornado Warning for Eastern Izard and Northern Sharp Counties 815 PM CDT

LITTORLIT
TTAA00 KLIT 150116
ARC065-135-150200-

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LITTLE ROCK AR
815 PM CDT SUN APR 14 1996

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN LITTLE ROCK HAS ISSUED A TORNADO WARNING 
EFFECTIVE UNTIL 900 PM CDT FOR PEOPLE IN THE FOLLOWING LOCATIONS...IN 
NORTH CENTRAL ARKANSAS

   ...EASTERN IZARD COUNTY...NORTHERN SHARP COUNTY

AT 814 PM CDT...DOPPLER WEATHER RADAR INDICATED A TORNADO 5 MILES NORTHEAST 
OF MELBOURNE...MOVING TO THE NORTHEAST AT 35 MPH. THIS MOVEMENT WILL TAKE 
THE TORNADO BETWEEN HORSESHOE BEND AND MYRON IN IZARD COUNTY...AND THEN ON 
TOWARD ASH FLAT IN SHARP COUNTY.

THIS IS A DANGEROUS STORM SITUATION. ACT QUICKLY. IF YOU ARE IN THE PATH OF 
THIS TORNADO MOVE TO A SHELTER BELOW GROUND IF AVAILABLE. OTHERWISE...GO TO 
A SMALL INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR POSSIBLE. AVOID WINDOWS. ABANDON 
CARS AND MOBILE HOMES FOR A REINFORCED BUILDING OR GET INTO A DITCH OR 
CULVERT.

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