Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Arkansas and F5 Tornadoes. Is Time Running Out?

Is time running out on Arkansas?  Did you know it has been 84 years since Arkansas has experienced an F5 tornado?  According to the National Weather Service office in North Little Rock, on April 10th, 1929, the only documented F5 tornado in state history destroyed communities around Pleasant Valley, Possum Trot, and Sneed in Jackson county.  These locations are just a couple of miles away from Swifton.  Research from the NWS office indicates the tornado was .5 mile wide.  It began just south of Batesville in Independence county, then tracked into northern Jackson county and ended in far southern Lawrence county.  23 died that day and 59 were injured.

Of all the tornadoes across the United States, since 1950, only .1% are rated F5.  

Take a look at the map below courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center.  Arkansas is the ONLY state in the central U.S that has NOT had an F5 tornado since 1950.  There have been 59 of them in the last 63 years.  The first F5 tornado since 1950 was recorded near Waco, TX on May 11, 1953.  and the 59th was on Monday in Moore, OK.

Look how close some of these F5's have been to our state.

Number 25 is Delhi, LA on February 21, 1971
Number 34 is Sprio, OK on March 26,1976
Number 38 is Broken Bow, OK on April 2, 1982
Number 57 is Joplin, MO on May 22, 2011

What about F4 tornadoes since 1950?  While rare, those do occur in Arkansas.  There have been 27 of these since 1950.  The most well known F4 in Arkansas occurred on February 5th, 2008, when one tracked from Yell to Sharp county.  That's 122 miles long!  It killed 13 Arkansans and injured 139.  You probably remember that occurred on Super Tuesday.

Check out this map from the Tornado History Project of all the F4 tracks in Arkansas since 1950.

Here's a list of all the F4 tornadoes in Arkansas since 1950

In summary, I think it's just a matter of time before this happens.  I REALLY HOPE I'M WRONG!!!!!! I REALLY DO!  However, you must ask how long this streak can continue looking at all the F5's that have hit around us.  We need to think about this! What would you do?  Do you have a plan?  Schools MUST take a hard look NOW at where to put the kids.  This is the time to do it.  Don't wait!


Unknown said...

Seriously? Why would you put this out there? Why would you say it's only a matter of time? Way to be negative!Just because it hasn't happened in awhile doesn't mean it will.

Unknown said...

Seriously? Why would you say that? Why would you say it's only a matter of time? Way to be negative. Just because it hasn't happened since 1929 doesn't mean it will.

Grace Church said...

Good post, Todd. Thanks for the info.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could put blinders on and say it will never happen here. However, we don't know for sure. The "classic" tornado alley in Arkansas (I30/I167)as seen it's share of F4s. Who is to say the next one won't be an F5? Pray we never see such tradegy. Pary we are prepared if it does happen.

Greg Reddin said...

An EF3 is a major tornado. Look what it did in Marmaduke in 2006 or in Faulkner County in 2003. One thing that worries me is that it seems the frequency of EF5s has increased in recent years. AL, Joplin, or Moore could happen in AR. The thing is, you won't know it at least until it's underway. We take tornadoes for granted because they happen so often and they usually cover a small area. But we really should treat them all as if they are EF5s because we just don't know until they are upon us. We don't need to freak out, but we do need to have a plan.


Anonymous said...

Instead of praying and hoping it doesn't happen we should prepare for it to happen. Saying it's being negative to assume something that is inevitable is really naive. Safe rooms and other forms of shelter have shown to be highly effective at saving lives.

Doug in HS said...

There is an article in today's issue of Hot Springs' newspaper, The Sentinel Record, dealing with emergency preparedness of Hot Springs and Garland county. About halfway into the article, there is a paragraph that reads:

"Given the mountainous terrain around Hot Springs, which acts as an impediment to the time a tornado is on the ground, Davis [Hot Springs' Fire Chief] said Hot Springs is more likely to see EF2 or EF3 tornadoes than an EF4 or EF5." (Thomason, 2013)

Todd, can you comment on the veracity of this statement?

Doug in Hot Springs

Thomason, D. (2013, May 28). Catastrophe would stretch city's resources. The Sentinel Record, pp. 1A-2a

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