Vilonia, Arkansas and Little Rock Air Force Base Raked By Major Tornado (4/25/2011)


(This blog post was named blog post of the day by WordPress.com on Wednesday, April 27th.)

An EF-2 tornado tore through the town of Vilonia, AR last night killing 4 people. Vilonia is a town about 25 miles north of Little Rock, AR with a population around 3,800. The tornado took houses right off the foundation, tossed cars through the air, and there are unconfirmed reports that pavement was scoured off the road in some places. And now, the blog post as it was written on Monday, April 25. Keep in mind that this tornado was on the ground for a total of 51 miles!!

A major tornado has torn through the town of Vilonia, Arkansas this evening between 7 and 730 pm this evening. Pavement was reported scoured off the road just in Vilonia. Storm spotters said the tornado that moved into Vilonia was a half-mile wide and also had one of the strongest couplets ever to appear on radar.

Radar & Base Velocity Side-By-Side. Picture courtesy of Tornadovideos.net

Also, trained amatuer radio storm spotters confirmed cars were blown off the road on parts of I-40 and near the town of Vilonia. Unconfirmed reports from the Vilonia PD reports “town is gone,” pavement has been scoured outside of town. Also, police reporting 1/2 mile wide destruction in Vilonia, AR. To hear that there was very few injuries so far with this tornado, that’s nothing short of a miracle. Advance warning of up to 20 minutes aided in this. Unfortunately, in that, as of 12:00 noon CT time Tuesday, April 26th, there has been 4 fatalities.

Faulkner County spokesman Stephan Hawks says one person died in the central Arkansas town of Vilonia, where a path of damage stretches three miles wide and 15 miles long. It wasn’t immediately clear how the person died.

“Debris signature showing up on radar with strong rotation crossing I-40 NW of Little Rock near Mayflower”-The Weather Channel. The Weather Channel report a debris ball signature something similar to the debris ball on the St Louis tornado last Friday night. This debris ball was on the radar out of the north sides of Little Rock for more than 30 minutes. Below is the radar image of that debris ball.

Here is what some of the storm chasers on Twitter has been saying about this tornado.

“I bet Vilonia gets an EF5 rating. Very bad situation up there.”-Reed Timmer, star of the show “Storm Chasers” and Tornadovideos.net extreme storm chaser.

“Bad news: Vilonia is confirmed gone. Good news: Few injuries reported due to ample warning. Things can be replaced, lives can’t”-Bart Comstock, extreme storm chaser.

Below is a 3-D representation, courtesy of the National Weather Service office in North Little Rock, Arkansas, showing this tornado. This is as spectacular as a radar presentation as I have even seen!

3-D Image of the Storm That Produced the Tornado in Vilonia. Special Thanks to the North Little Rock NWS Office for This Graphic

The National Weather Service (NWS) is reporting storm debris in Vilonia (Faulkner County). Also, Highway 64 inside the city limits is reported closed. That’s also where an 18-wheeler was blown over. Tornado warnings were posted in the area when the storm moved through around seven o’clock. When it moved over Maumelle, golf ball-sized hail was reported. On Interstate 40 near Morrilton, Arkansas, vehicles have been blown off the road, according to Arkansas State Police.

Around the same time, a tornado was reportedly spotted near Crystal Hill Road moving into North Little Rock, and there were reports that NWS personnel in NLR had to abandon their station and take shelter. Damage north of Jacksonville and around the Little Rock Air Force Base (both in Pulaski County) was also likely caused by a tornado (from a different parent storm). There was major tree damage between Big Fork and Board Camp (Polk County), and this was probably the result of a tornado. The storm in Jacksonville would be responsible for destroying the North Pulaski High School at about 7:50 pm CT.

Survey teams from the National Weather Service will be out in the coming days to examine the damage, and determine how many tornadoes ripped through the region.The NWS also reports one person was hurt when windows were blown out of a car on Interstate 40 at Morgan just after 7:15 tonight.

The Storm Prediction Center had predicted significant severe weather over much of Arkansas for Monday, and storms quickly grew violent in the heat of the day. Forecasters say Tuesday could bring another bout of bad weather and that storms could delay assessment of Monday’s damage.

From John Rullman, who posted a comment on this event, concerning the damage in the area: “My son’s high school (North Pulaski High School) is just outside the side gate from Little Rock Air Force Base. He’s not going to school today because it has been destroyed. My oldest son roommate’s with his friend on base, he is ok but says many homes are damaged and he has alot of “boards” filling his front yard.”

From Sarah Walker in Hot Springs, AR: “I live in Hot Springs. We are use to storms but nothing like what went on last night. I’ve never had to take cover for a tornado. My siblings and I were at my parents house. My dad was standing on our front porch with the screen door open, the wind was blowing from the South against the door but the door was standing wide open… My sister and granma’s homes both have trees on them, they live on Surrey Road in Ranch Estates where a tornado went through. Prayers all around!”

Here are more storm reports from the area. This blog will be updated with the latest information as it becomes available.

4/25/2011 0750 PM: A possible tornado was spotted near the airport in North Little Rock, moving toward the Little Rock Air Force Base. Another tornado was reported in White County. A church was reportedly damaged on Interstate 40 near Maumelle. Near Mayflower, Highways 365 south and 89 south are blocked by storm debris. A police officer said cars had blown off the road and trees were knocked down between Morgan and Mayflower. Structural damage was reported in Vilonia from a possible tornado.

4/25/2011 0731 PM: Downtown Little Rock was in the path of another dangerous storm front as damage and injuries were reported Monday in central Arkansas. In Faulkner County, a possible tornado was reported near Vilonia. A tornado warning was also in effect until 7:45 p.m. for Faulkner, Lonoke, Pulaski and Saline counties

4/25/2011 0730 PM: 6 miles N of Vilonia, Faulkner County.Thunderstorm wind damage, reported by law enforcement. An 18 Wheeler was blown over.

4/25/2011 0725 PM: Vilonia, Faulkner County. Tornado, reported by amateur radio. Trees and power lines were down… blocking Highway 64. Also reports of most of the town, including downtown Vilonia has been damaged/destroyed.

4/25/2011 0714 PM: 3 miles E of Mayflower, Faulkner County.Tornado, reported by law enforcement. Tornado was reported on Highway 89.

4/25/2011 0711 PM: 1 miles N of Wooster, Faulkner County. Thunderstorm wind damage, reported by amateur radio. Trees and power lines were blown down.

4/25/2011 0710 PM: 1 miles E of Mayflower, Faulkner County. Thunderstorm wind damage, reported by trained spotter. Major damage has been reported along Highway 89. Power lines were down… and a vehicle was blown off the Road. There is at least a half mile wide swath of downed trees.

4/25/2011 0708 PM: Wooster, Faulkner County. Thunderstorm wind damage, reported by other federal.
Many trees were blown down… with some roof damage. A car was blown off the Road. Time is approximated based on radar.

Also, damage reported at the Little Rock AFB, roof damage to houses and cars tossed around. A church, other structures damaged near Morgan, Maumelle, Ark. areas. Injuries also reported. This is also from the tornado previously mentioned.

Note the wording of this bulletin issued prior to when the tornado hit Vilonia. You could tell by the wording the Little Rock NWS office, this was a dire, life-threatening situation, seeing that one fatality has been reported already.

SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LITTLE ROCK AR
724 PM CDT MON APR 25 2011

…A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR SOUTH CENTRAL CLEBURNE…SOUTHWESTERN WHITE…EAST CENTRAL FAULKNER AND EXTREME NORTHWESTERN LONOKE COUNTIES UNTIL 800 PM CDT…

…TORNADO EMERGENCY FOR VILONIA…

AT 720 PM CDT…STORM SPOTTERS AND NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGISTS WERE TRACKING A CONFIRMED TORNADO WITH REPORTS OF DAMAGE. THIS POTENTIALLY DEADLY TORNADO WAS LOCATED 5 MILES SOUTHWEST OF VILONIA…OR 7 MILES EAST OF LAKE CONWAY…MOVING NORTHEAST AT 50 MPH.

* LOCATIONS IN OR NEAR THE PATH OF THIS TORNADO INCLUDE… SEARCY… VILONIA… ROSE BUD… MT VERNON… HIGGINSON… GRAVEL HILL… ENOLA… CROSBY… SIDON… ROMANCE… OTTO… LETONA… JOY… FLOYD… EL PASO… CENTER HILL… ARMSTRONG SPRINGS… ALBION…

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

TO REPEAT…A VIOLENT TORNADO IS ON THE GROUND. THIS IS AN EXCEPTIONALLY DANGEROUS SITUATION. THIS STORM IS PRODUCING A LIFE THREATENING…CONFIRMED TORNADO CAPABLE OF SIGNIFICANT DESTRUCTION! TAKE COVER IMMEDIATELY!

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9 thoughts on “Vilonia, Arkansas and Little Rock Air Force Base Raked By Major Tornado (4/25/2011)

  1. my sons high school (north pulski high school) is just outside the side gate from little rock air force base, he’s not going to school today because it has been destroyed, my oldest son room mates with his friend on base, he is ok but says many homes are damaged and he has alot of “boards” filling his front yard…

    1. Thank you for the update. We will hear more about this kind of damage from Conway to North Little Rock to Vilonia. Sadly enough. I will go ahead at place your post in my blog as well. I hope things look up for you in the coming days. Keep me posted.

  2. I live in Hot Springs. We are use to storms but nothing like what went on last night. I’ve never had to take cover for a tornado. My siblings and I were at my parents house. My dad was standing on our front porch with the screen door open, the wind was blowing from the South against the door but the door was standing wide open… My sister and granma’s homes both have trees on them, they live on Surrey Road in Ranch Estates where a tornado went through. Prayers all around!

    1. Thank you. Yep, we get our share of storms, but what went through Hot Springs, wow! Prayers all around for you and yours down there. I will add your comment to the blog as well. Bad news today is more weather is coming, unfortunately.

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