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story.lead_photo.caption Brian Emfinger walks Thursday past pine trees that toppled across Fair Park Boulevard at West 18th Street in Little Rock during a morning thunderstorm. - Photo by Jeff Mitchell

An EF1 tornado carved a 2.3-mile path in Marion County early Thursday, affecting about 145 residents, trapping three people in their homes and destroying at least five homes, officials said.

National Weather Service meteorologist Willie Gilmore said that at 4:27 a.m. the tornado, with wind speeds of 86 to 110 mph, cut through southern Marion County in the area of Ralph and Yellville.

Tornadoes are measured on the Enhanced Fujita scale of zero to 5, with level-5 systems causing the most damage.

County Judge John Massey said the tornado reached speeds of 105 mph.

The tornado was part of a storm system that produced high winds and scattered flooding as it pushed eastward across the state.

High winds toppled several trees and power lines in west Little Rock, according to Dan Noble, a spokesman for the Arkansas Emergency Management Department.

Similar damage was reported elsewhere in the state, Noble said, with trees and power lines down in Yell, Craighead, Cleburne, Saline and Stone counties. Cross County reported flooding, Noble said.

The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning early Thursday for Little Rock and said winds had toppled trees in other parts of Pulaski County, as well.

Massey said he got the call about the tornado in Marion County before 5 a.m. Thursday. Emergency responders encountered blocked roads along Arkansas 14, forcing many of them to take side roads to reach the worst of the damage.

A potential storm track, created by the National Weather Service in Little Rock, indicated the 2.3-mile path of the tornado. Massey said the track encompassed about 150 addresses and 145 residents. The storm left about 600 people in the area without electricity for at least part of the day.

Entergy crews were working to restore power Thursday, but Massey said the number of snapped or fallen utility poles would likely complicate their efforts.

Three people were rescued from their homes after being trapped by debris, Massey said. Noble said one of the three received minor injuries.

One of the residents was roused from sleep early Thursday after power went out in his home, Massey said. Moments after leaving his bed, a tree crashed through the roof of his bedroom, Massey said.

The man was trapped in the house for more than 45 minutes, but escaped serious injury, he said.

Videos on one of the destroyed homes showed roof tiles and insulation strewn about in some woods where trees were toppled.

Massey said many volunteer firefighters, Marion County sheriff's deputies and emergency responders worked close to 12 hours to clear roads and restore power to the area.

"We're new to this, but everybody has pulled together and worked together," Massey said. "I'm really proud of that."

Little Rock Fire Department spokesman Capt. Jason Weaver said the call load early Thursday in Little Rock was so heavy that the department went into "fire ground five," meaning five emergency rescue channels were open and operating.

A planned refresher training session for multiple fire crews was canceled, Weaver said, to ensure that all available firefighters could respond to reports of downed trees and power lines and fallen limbs, as well as fire alarms.

Weaver said one family in the Point O Woods Drive area near the University of Arkansas at Little Rock was displaced after a tree fell on the home, but no other major damage was reported in Little Rock from the storm.

According to the National Weather Service, another storm system will reach the state Sunday and Monday, producing 1-3 inches of rain, meaning there could be localized flooding.

CORRECTION: The track of an EF1 tornado that struck Thursday morning in Marion County was 2.3 miles. A county official provided incorrect information about the length of the tornado’s track in an article in Friday’s editions.

A map showing the approximate tornado path in Marion County.

Metro on 02/08/2019

Print Headline: EF1 tornado hits northern Arkansas; wind damage, flooding reported in other parts of state


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