LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – On February 5, 2008, a historic tornado outbreak occurred across four states – Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama – producing 87 tornadoes that killed 57 people and injured hundreds more. The severe weather event occurred on “Super Tuesday,” when several states were holding primary elections and caucuses ahead of the next presidential election.
Abundant warmth and moisture flowing from the Gulf of Mexico northward helped fuel the environment for a severe weather scenario as a strong storm system approached from the Plains. As the cold front entered Arkansas, cells started developing quickly and it wasn’t long before tornado warnings were issued.
In Arkansas, there were 12 tornadoes, and 14 people died as a result of the severe weather event.
One of the tornadoes was long-tracked, on the ground for 122 miles. It caused extensive damage from Atkins (Pope County) to Clinton (Van Buren County), Mountain View (Stone County) and Highland (Sharp County). According to the National Weather Service, this tornado was the longest track tornado on record in Arkansas since 1950.
The tornado was rated an EF-4 by the National Weather Service, with winds of 166-200 mph. It traveled through seven counties including: Yell, Pope, Conway, Van Buren, Stone, Izard and Sharp. Eight people died from this tornado alone.
There were no tornadoes recorded in Pulaski County from this severe weather event. Rather, severe thunderstorm winds of 60-70 mph from a squall line resulted in downed trees on roadways and homes, as well as damaged power lines and outages.
For more information regarding the outbreak of tornadoes on this day in 2008, you can read through the National Weather Service’s Executive Summary of the event here.