Sunday, December 02, 2012

Remembering December 2nd and 3rd, 1982... 30 Years Later

7:30 AM Monday Update...  Here are a few comments from my facebook page from those who remember and experienced this disaster 30 years ago.  Some of these stories will send chills up your spine.

Carol Nelson... I was in this Tornado in Alexander, my house was okay, but I went to a neighbors house and got hurt. I saw the Huge Black Cloud in my Backyard and got scared and couldn't stay in my house, so I ran across the street and to tell my neighbor about the storm coming. The impact of the wind tearing my neighbors house threw me up against the wall and It broke my ribs and I got out of there with no shoes on(I had shoes on, but in the process of untangling myself from the wires and other debris, they fell off) When the ambulance I was in got to I-430, I saw a car that had its windshield blown out and the woman had blood running down her face. There were lots of debris along all the roadways leaving Alexander and going into Little Rock, almost looked like a war zone. I will never forget that day.

Vicki Turner Brain... I remember them well--My son was 3 weeks old when the 1st one hit--my daughter was in 2nd gr. at Christ Lutheran and I ran in with him and all the children were screaming and the sirens were going off. I've never heard such wind in my life! When we came out, cars were moved around on the parking lot and some had broken windows. Trees were down across streets. The Christmas Eve tornado almost ruined by son's baptism at the evening service. Thankfully, we were all safe!

Michelle Gibson... I remember it well. I was 8 and lived on crossroads right next to I-30. It took the roof off of my grandparents house and dud heavy damage. I also remember the one on Christmas eve that same year.

Michelle Rodgers Moore... I was a sophomore at Parkview High School and was sitting in class when the tornado hit our school about 10 minutes before school was out for the day. It was very scary to say the least. Most of the cars in the parking lot received a lot of had a massive ac unit dropped on it. We were out of school for a week, but thankfully no one was seriously hurt.

9:30 PM Sunday update... Here's video from our KATV video archive of the massive flooding and tornado outbreak of December 2nd and 3rd, 1982.  Scroll down for more information after watching.

It's hard to believe it has been 30 years since the outbreak of 16 tornadoes.  2 people died and 60 were injured during this 2 day outbreak.  I'm going to show my age here, but I was 8 years old and in the 3rd grade.  I barely remember this event.  I do remember having to take cover at school and hearing afterwards of a radio tower in the midtown area collapsing.  That's where my memory of this event stops.  

Here's some information I found about that F3 tornado which tore through Saline county and moved through the gut of the metro area. 

"At 2:55 PM, on December 2nd, a tornado touched down near Bryant, Arkansas, moved northeast through residential areas of western Little Rock to Crystal Hill, Arkansas.  Eight-six mobile homes were destroyed in Alexander.  One man was killed and 28 were injured.  Another man was killed when a piece of sheet metal crashed through the windshield of his parked car.  In western Little Rock, an additional 25 people were injured.  Also, over 100 homes were destroyed and about 750 buildings were damaged."

That month in 1982 was a December we DON'T want to remember.  It's also known for flooding those same two days across west central into north central Arkansas.  The entire business district in Clinton was flooded as more than 10 inches of rain fell.  

I also remember the big Christmas Eve tornado outbreak later that same month.  We were in the middle of church services and the sirens were going off.  More on that later this month.

1982 was a historic year weatherwise in Arkansas for flooding and tornadoes.  As a matter of fact, we ended up with 78 tornadoes that year which to this day is the 3rd most in state weather history.

Meteorologist John Robinson at the National Weather Service office in North Little Rock worked those outbreaks that December and he's still working there today.  I want to thank him for helping me find some of this information online.

If you have any stories of this event, please share them in the comment section.

Below are various graphics I have found.

Here are all the tornado tracks I could find from the  We had 6, F3 tornadoes in Arkansas in 1 day (December 2nd).  You can clearly see the one which went through the Bryant and Little Rock area.
Here's the exact path of the F3 tornado from Bryant through Little Rock into North Little Rock.  It looks like it went right over the junction of I-30 and I-430.  Someone may help my memory in the comment section, but was Parkview High School hit?  Anyway, it went through midtown and crossed the river near Burns Park and moved close to the North Little Rock airport.

Here's a little wider shot showing more F3's north of Little Rock up towards Faulkner county on December 2nd.
More tornadoes were spawned on December 3rd.  Look at the one just east of Camden.  That's an F3

Here's a close up of the F3 which barely missed Camden, but caused significant damage just east and northeast of town on December 3rd, 1982.
This map may be a little difficult to read, but the areas outlined in western and northern Arkansas shows where a lot of rain fell.  As a matter of fact, almost of foot fell in some locations.  Here's more information I found about the flooding that day... "Torrential rains totaling ten inches or more fell in west and north Arkansas during a relatively short period from the afternoon of Thursday, December 2 to Friday morning December 3, 1982 (Figure 1). Extensive flooding occurred in these regions , both flash floods and river flooding. Particularly astounding was the rise on the Buffalo River at St. Joe, Arkansas. This small undammed river in a National Wilderness Area rose from 6.4 feet the morning of December 2 to 53.7 feet at noon December 3, a nearly 50 foot rise in one day (2)! Clinton, Arkansas, the county seat of Van Buren County, was especially hard hit by flooding. The entire business district was under 8-10 feet of water by the morning of December 3. Six people drowned in flood waters in the state."
Here's the surface map on December 2nd.  Notice the front to the west.  It was very slow moving due to the slow nature of the upper level trough advancing out of the western United States.  A ridge of high pressure over the east halted forward progress causing the system to creep at a slow pace.  This contributed to the excessive, flooding rainfall.
Here's the upper level chart.  You can see the deep trough to our west and the very significant amplitude to the jet stream.  



Omarr Wilson said...

I wasn't even born back then. It's safe to say that I wasn't even thought of around this time. But my uncle remember's December 2nd all to well. He lived just east of where I live. He lived in meadowcliff on the west side of Hindman Park. He lost his house in it's entirety. Which he moved from there into the Meadowcliff area on Greenway Drive. Where I live now was hit by the tornado. More RFD I suspect than anything. But we've had very close calls since then with tornadoes. But Fortunately we haven't had one nearly as strong and to take the same track. Let's hope it stay that way.!

John Sacrey said...

I was at Ridge Road Jr. High (9th grade) in NLR that day in English class when I saw the transformers explode over there. This was before the sirens went off, too. I also remember seeing huge CG's in NLR due west of school around the Old Conway Highway where Art's Boats used to be there at Lynn Lane. Then, just as the sirens went off and we headed downstairs to the basement, I remember seeing a wall of rain moving real fast south to north in the same area the lightning was.

Anonymous said...

i was working in the nursery at baptist medical center .Went out to pick babies up from moms just about the time the tornado went over power went out and babies were delivered by flashlight a very scary night

Anonymous said...

I was in 5th grade at Cloverdale Elementary. When the tornado hit, my grandparents had already brought me home from school. Parents were on the road and in Hot Springs. My parents got the news of the tornado hitting Little Rock and hurried back. I remember the tornado hitting a church at the I430 and Stagecoach interchange and several mobile homes and trees destroyed. I have a vague memory of seeing news footage of the Crystal Hill area getting damage. It was a frightening sight. Hard to believe just a year later we had a White Christmas. I would not want to relive Christmas 1982. Terrible.

Michael Hook said...

To this day as the storm moved across NLR it was the greenest wall/cloud funnel I've ever seen. It was dark black/green. From JFK/McCain looking to the west you could capture the funnel although couldn't tell if it was on the ground there was debris floating in the air around the circulation. Amazing to me that on Dec 2nd, 6 F-3 tornadoes in the state yet only 2 fatalities. A tribute to the warning system no doubt. John Robinson and the NWS were on top of it as well as local TV/Radio.

Interesting to look at the track of the LR/NLR storm and see how similar it is to the April 3rd 2008 storm that hit Cammack Village/NLR/Sherwood (including my house).


Will said...

Okay. We had a Tornado outbreak in December 30 years ago and it was bad but not unprecedented. Please, lets discuss "normal" winter weather and the fact that the differing models are coming into better agreement about the upcoming potential pattern changes later this month. I need Snowbird Bob on here to get this conversation moving. What say ye SnowBird Bob??

Snowbirdbob said...

Will...I say Winter is coming in a Big Way from Dec.10th-25th..2-3 Possible Winter Weather Events..1st one early next week..Mainly for North Ark..Between the 15th-20th..Could be further south??..This aint last Winter..Even though many of you may think so with all this warm air around...The Signal's are 100% Different...

AKA Bob Read

Anonymous said...

i don't see the tornado listed that blew away our aunt and uncle's trailer as well as moved granny's house off its foundation about 3 feet with some very scared occupants inside. it was in fairplay community, in Hot spring co. on the saline co. line. i do remember the flooding we drove from ft. smith that day to get to gramma's house and help out. her house was missing the closed-in front porch and had half the roof gone with the rain moving that way. we just barely got tarps over it before the downpour began. water was already in the ceiling and we punched holes in it to let it out. the wind blew all that night afterwards and was very scary. we picked up what was left of auntie's belongings the next day in the rain all across the fields and in the downed trees. $20. bills hung in the trees, her pay she had just picked up was in the trailer that was scattered for miles. pennys from her penny jar were all over granny's garden across the road from where the trailer use to sit.
there were no trees left standing around the houses. how the houses stayed is a miracle. the tornado stayed on the ground and took out more buildings and trailers northeast of us.

Anonymous said...

I was 2 years old when thia tornado blew through Bryant, it's my earliest memory. I remember sitting under the table in our mobile home. Our home was spared but my aunt mobile home was destroyed. She and my cousin were in the hallway and amazingly they surrivied and made it out safely. This storm is why at 32 years of age I'm still scared of storms.

Anonymous said...

I lived on the western side of Otter Creek. I remember the dewpoint hitting in the 70's, back in the day when the weather channel provided weather data. I have wondered about the path of this tornado because I opened the front door (facing west) and saw a huge black cloud moving north at the tree line of homes across the street. I promptly shut the door ran to a closet and crawled in. I don't see how I could have seen the wall cloud as it should have passed to the east of Otter Creek. My brother was in traffic at the intersection of University and Asher and said the wall cloud had at least five vortices. He was a storm spotter way back then, so it makes me wonder if what I saw was part of the wall cloud.

Unknown said...

I was in 2nd Grade at Christ Lutheran School when one of the tornados came through. I remember crouching in the hallway with a book over my head. I lifted my head and looked down the hall to see pine trees bending over so their tops touched the ground! So scared. Then to spend Christmas Eve in the bathroom was pretty scary too. We lived in Pleasant Valley, right next to I-30. At least we had presents to open as a distraction!

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