Little Rock Police Dept. Chopper Crash
According to KATV reports, a retired Little Rock Police Department officer was seriously injured as a result of an incident involving their helicopter. I pray for his rapid recovery. Thanks to all those who wear the uniform and take risks to protect all of us every single day.
The incident occurred around 11AM at 1140 Ironton Cutoff Road in southern Pulaski county. A spokesperson for the Police Dept. says the helicopter was tipped over when straight-line winds affected the area.
Straight-line wind defined by the National Weather Service - "Generally, any wind that is not associated with rotation, used mainly to differentiate them from tornadic winds."
Straight line winds are only associated with thunderstorms. I have examined radar data at the time of the incident and found no thunderstorm activity anywhere near central Arkansas.
I have also examined velocities on radar and found nothing which stands out as significant winds. The site of the accident is about 14 miles south of the radar and due to the curvature of the earth, the lowest radar beam is about 800 feet in elevation. Could there have been something below that? It's possible, but very unlikely.
1140 Ironton Cutoff Road is about 10 miles from the Little Rock airport. That is the location of the nearest automated surface observation station. Winds at 10:53AM were from the southwest at 9mph with no gusts noted. I discussed the possibility of an outflow boundary moving through the area due to northern Arkansas storms Wednesday night into Thursday morning with a meteorologist at the National Weather Service. This could have caused a brief wind gust. However, if there was an outflow boundary, it would have passed over the Little Rock airport to arrive at the site of the incident. The observations at the airport prior to the accident do not indicate any wind gusts so that can likely be ruled out. As of 1:30PM, the highest wind gust today is 19mph from the southwest. This was recorded at 12:53 PM.
A preliminary conclusion rules out straight line winds as the cause, but we'll see what the investigation finds.
Here is radar data
This is the velocity data