SEVIER COUNTY, Ark. – While damaging straight-line wind was the primary concern for Tuesday night’s severe weather event, the possibility of a tornado or two could not be ruled out.
That part of the forecast became realized as the line of thunderstorms stretching from one corner of the state to the other began moving through Sevier county.
Around 10:20 PM, a circulation tightened up on the edge of that line of thunderstorms and helped produce a tornado that started on the ground in Oklahoma. From there, it traveled a few miles and crossed over into Arkansas before weakening and lifting to the east of the community of De Queen in Sevier County.
The tornado was on the ground for 20 minutes for a total path length of about 20 miles. At one point along the path, the wind field spanned 350 yards and wind speeds peaked at 125 mph.
Just after the tornado formed in Oklahoma, that is where the most significant damage was found. Based on the findings from a survey conducted by the National Weather Service Shreveport Office, that damage was equivalent to an EF-2 tornado. That is where this tornado gets its official classification. While no EF-2 damage was discovered in Arkansas, EF-0 to EF-1 damage was found along the continued path with max winds at one point being 105 mph.
It is worth noting that while we classify this tornado and others with its peak rating, the entire life of a tornado along its path may not maintain the peak wind speed. The speed will vary based on a number of factors.
As far as damage goes, trees were the main topic of the survey with hundreds being reported damage by this tornado. The most significant damage found in Arkansas was along the path where it crossed US HWY 59. A mobile home was destroyed from being rolled by the wind.
This is the only tornado confirmed from Tuesday night and brings our 2020 count to 23.