EF3 Tornado Wreaks Havoc in Little Rock Amid Severe Weather Outbreak
It was a day of terror and destruction for the residents of Little Rock and surrounding areas, as a large and dangerous tornado ripped through the city on Friday afternoon, leaving behind a trail of damaged homes, cars, and power lines. The tornado, which was rated EF3 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, had winds of up to 165 mph and was about half a mile wide at its peak. It was part of a violent outbreak of severe weather that affected more than 15 states in the central U.S. and the Mississippi Valley.
The tornado struck around 2:30 p.m. local time, cutting a swath of devastation across the western end of Little Rock and North Little Rock. It tore off rooftops, uprooted trees, flipped vehicles, and tossed debris on roadways as people scrambled for shelter. The Little Rock Fire Department reported heavy damage and debris in the area and said it was performing rescue operations. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Medical Center declared a mass casualty event and expected at least 15 to 20 patients from the tornado, some of them in critical condition.
Little Rock Residents Face Mass Casualties and Power Outages After Destructive Tornado
The National Weather Service issued a tornado emergency for metro Little Rock, warning residents that this was a “particularly dangerous situation” and urging them to take cover immediately. Multiple videos on social media showed the violent, menacing funnel tearing through the area while sirens wailed in the background. Some witnesses described the sound of the tornado as a “freight train” or a “jet engine”.
Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a tweet that there was “significant damage” in the central area of Arkansas and that local authorities were assessing any injuries from the storm. She also urged people to stay off the roads and avoid downed power lines. Nearly 80,000 customers were without power in Arkansas, according to utility tracker PowerOutage.US.
A Day of Terror: How a Deadly Tornado Ravaged Little Rock and Surrounding Areas
The tornado was one of several that touched down in Arkansas on Friday, as well as in Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, and Tennessee. The Storm Prediction Center had issued a high risk for severe weather for two separate parts of the central U.S., the highest category on its scale measuring the coverage and intensity of storms. The conditions were similar to those that spawned a devastating EF4 tornado that killed at least 21 people in Mississippi last week.
Meteorologists warned that the threat of severe weather was not over yet, as more storms were expected to develop overnight and into Saturday. They advised people to stay alert and have a plan in case of another tornado emergency.
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