The twister that tore through central Arkansas on Sunday evening, killing 15 people and leaving more than 3,000 homes in three counties uninhabitable, has been rated as a "high-end" EF4, National Weather Service officials said Wednesday.
The weather service on Wednesday afternoon released data about Sunday's violent storms in a news conference at its headquarters in North Little Rock.
The winds of the tornado that tracked about 41 miles from western Pulaski County to western White County were recorded as being between 166 and 200 mph, weather service officials said.
The storm system also spawned some weaker tornadoes — rated between EF1 and EF3 — along its path elsewhere in the state.
The damage that was closest to being consistent with a possible EF5-rated tornado was seen in downtown Vilonia, officials said.
A total of 15 people were killed in the storms — 11 of whom were from Mayflower and Vilonia. Another three people were killed near Paron and one woman died in El Paso.
President Barack Obama on Tuesday approved a major-disaster declaration for Faulkner County.
Arkansas hasn't had a top-of-the-scale storm since April 10, 1929, when a twister formed south of Batesville in Independence County and struck Sneed in northern Jackson County. That storm was rated F5 on a previous scale and killed 23.
Sunday's death toll of 15 was the state's highest since 1997, when 25 people were killed in storms that tracked from Arkadelphia to the Missouri Bootheel.
Read Thursday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for more on this story.
Information for this article was contributed by Scott Carroll of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and by the Associated Press.