An outbreak of severe thunderstorms caused tornadoes, damaging winds, and significant flash flooding to sweep across the southern U.S. between January 10 and 12. According to The Weather Channel, up to 700 reports of severe weather were received by the National Weather Service over the weekend.
Several tornadoes touched down
Eight tornadoes touched down in Arkansas, two of which were rated EF-2. One traveled 13.6 miles in Logan County with peak winds between 111 and 135 mph. The tornado destroyed two homes, several barns, chicken houses, and outbuildings.
The second EF-2 tornado tracked 20 miles east of Montrose in Chicot County with peak winds at 130 mph. Six of the tornadoes were rated EF-1. Fives homes in total were destroyed by the tornadoes and nine were damaged.
No injuries or deaths have been reported.
“Thousands of trees were uprooted and snapped along the path along with numerous power lines and poles downed,” said the National Weather Service. “Some of the heaviest damage was to a mobile home just off Ashley County Road 129. The home was thrown 15 to 20 feet and destroyed.”
Governor Hutchinson declared a state of emergency on Saturday, January 11. Crews are still working to restore power around Arkansas.
A tornado also touched down in Missouri, destroying a home near Fair Play 35 miles from Springfield on January 10. Another tornado touched down on January 10 just south of Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
Strong winds damage buildings, ignite grass fire
Strong thunderstorm winds blew seven semi-trucks off Interstate 40 near Wheatley, Arkansas on January 11. Because of their large size, semis and large vehicles can easily tip over in high winds, which is why it’s recommended to drive below 60 mph in an RV.
Four buildings southeast of Jackson, Missouri were damaged. Winds up to 70 mph roared through Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas when the squall line, a line of thunderstorms forming a cold front, surged through the Deep South.
A grass/woods fire was ignited at Montrose Parkway in Peachtree Corners in Gwinnett, Georgia when power lines were downed in the northeastern Atlanta metro area.
Heavy rainfall and flash floods
The severe weather also brought downpours across Arkansas, causing additional storm damage and flooding. Rainfall and flash flooding closed roads in northeast Arkansas and nine water rescues were made in Little Rock. Reports of the rescues did not include details of how they were performed, whether by helicopter, boat, or a combination of the two.
According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, 90% of all natural disasters in the U.S. involve flooding and 62 million U.S. homes are at moderate to extreme risk of flooding. Over 98% of homes with basements will experience some type of water damage either due to natural disasters or a broken water pipe, which can leak 250 gallons of water a day.
It’s crucial to evacuate flooded areas and not to enter floodwaters. Not only is there a strong risk of electrocution but you could also come into contact with dangerous debris and contaminated water. Even when dry, your home’s carpet contains dirt and allergens, so you can only imagine what happens when floodwaters come through.
For more information on what to do when your area is flooded or is facing another type of natural disaster, check out the official website for the Department of Homeland Security.