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  • Writer's pictureTodd Yakoubian

First Arkansas EF5 since 1929?

Arkansas is the only state in the central U.S that has NOT had an EF5 tornado since modern tornado records started in 1950. There's one documentation of an F5 in northeast Arkansas from April 1929 after extensive research by the National Weather Service.

While the surveys are still being conducted at the time I write this, we can't rule out EF5 damage found somewhere in Craighead or Mississippi county from the devastating storm Friday night. We just won't know until all the data has been collected and this will take some time since the storm went through several National Weather Service office county warning areas. It will take a lot of collaboration between these offices to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.

ASSUMING the tornado stayed on the ground continuously and EF5 tornado damage is found in Kentucky, it will become the 1st EF5 tornado in Arkansas since April of 1929 even if no EF5 damage is found within our state.

Let me explain with an example from April of 2019. A tornado in northern Louisiana crossed the state line into Ashley county. Only EF0 and EF1 damage was found in Arkansas, but there was one small area on the other side of the state line which sustained EF2 damage. For that reason, the overall tornado rating ended up being EF2 in the record books. See images below

I know the icons are hard to see, but the blue triangles represent EF0 damage and the green triangles represent EF1 damage.

Look at the zoomed in image just south of the state line.

There are 2 yellow triangles which represent EF2 damage

Therefore, the entire tornado will go down in the history books as an EF2. The highest damage rating along the path is the final rating.

Once again, it's possible this could be the first Arkansas EF5 in almost 100 years, but that's assuming that type of damage is found AND it assumes a continuous path. If this is the case, consider a big asterisk next to this final survey since no EF5 tornado damage was found within the state line despite the overall rating of EF5. Hope this all makes sense.

Remember, we will NOT know until the final survey is released or some preliminary statement comes from the National Weather Service. No matter what happens, there are so many in pain right now. You can help by donating to the Spirit of Arkansas Disaster Relief in partnership with the Red Cross. Just go to

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