Thunderstorms Rake Northeast Arkansas

Saturday - May 9

Parts of northeast Arkansas were blasted by damaging wind, torrential rain and hail as a line of severe thunderstorms moved through during the early evening on Saturday, May 9, 1998.  Bringing winds that sometimes reached 80 mph, the thunderstorms destroyed at least two mobile homes and damaged others.  The wind also ripped roofs on houses, downed trees and powerlines, while the heavy downpours flooded fields and roads.

Based on Doppler weather radar, forecasters at 5:55 p.m. first posted a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Randolph and Lawrence Counties in advance of the approaching storm.  Then, as weather radar showed increasing potential, forecasters upgraded the Randolph County's advisory to a Tornado Warning at 6:00 p.m.  Subsequent weather warnings included Greene, Mississippi, Poinsett, and Craighead in Arkansas along with Dunklin County in the Missouri bootheel.

Greatest damage appears to have occurred across southern Randolph County.  Violent winds toppled trees and overturned two mobile along a four-mile wide path from just north of the old Noland store eastward about seven miles to near the Manson intersection along highway 67, south of Pocahontas.

Weather radar indicated a posible tornado, and residents of the area spotted two funnel clouds as the storms roared over, but no touch-downs were reported.  Damage patterns are indicative of a weather event called a 'downburst', so it appears likely that the circulating wind within the storm failed to reach ground level.  Downbursts often produce tornado-like damage as thunderstorm winds reach the strength of a weak tornado.

Damaging winds covered a fairly wide area beneath the severe thunderstorms.  Damage from that thunderstorm cluster reached east into Green and Clay Counties, and south into parts of Lawrence County.  There were scattered instances of downed trees and powerlines, damaged roofs, and farm structures throughout the region.   Hail damaged tender young crops, and the torrential rain flooded county roads across a wide part of northeast Arkansas.

Other severe storms on Saturday, May 9 brought wind damage to sections of Craighead and Poinsett Counties, as well.  The area around Trumann, in Poinsett County, may have borne the brunt of those storms.  Large hail damaged house siding there and covered the ground for a while after the storm passed.  Severe winds downed signs and damaged at least one Trumann business.

Some excellent material on downbursts can be found by visiting this link to the Forecast Systems Labratory, and to some of  Charles Doswell's research.


USA.gov is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.