(Image courtesy of NWS Little Rock. This image shows the base velocity couplet near Saltillo, AR moments before the tornado hit Vilonia)
The Mayflower-Vilonia, Arkansas tornado that struck on the evening of Sunday, April 27, has been given a final rating of a high-end EF-4 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.
Officials with the National Weather Service made the announcement Wednesday evening at a news conference at their office in North Little Rock, AR.
According to officials, this tornado started West of Ferndale and ended in El Paso. It was on the ground for 41.3 miles and lasted more than an hour. This tornado reached its maximum strength near Downtown Vilonia.
NWS survey teams revisited a few damage spots in Mayflower and Vilonia earlier today before deciding and making the final determination.
This tornado is also being blamed for the first death ever from someone taking shelter in a safe room designed to withstand tornadic winds.
(Photo is of the debris ball on radar NE of Roland, AR. Courtesy of @okcstormwatcher on Twitter. )
Here’s a write up that the Weather Channel did.
Tornado ‘Shredded’ Cars, Trucks and 18-Wheelers
The Arkansas twister shredded cars, trucks and 18-wheelers stuck along Interstate 40 north of Little Rock. After the storm passed, tractor-trailer rigs tried to navigate through the damage to continue their journeys, while gawkers held smartphones to their windows to offer a grim glimpse of the destruction.
State troopers went vehicle-to-vehicle to check on motorists and found — with genuine surprise — that no one was killed.
“About 30 vehicles — large trucks, sedans, pickup trucks — were going through there when the funnel cloud passed over,” said Bill Sadler, a spokesman for the Arkansas State Police.
The Red Cross has opened emergency shelters at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Conway and Beryl Baptist Church in Vilonia.
Four other Red Cross-supported shelters are also open. In Conway, they are located at Antioch Baptist Church, Oak Bowery Baptist Church and Point of Grace. A shelter is also available at Mayflower Middle School.
The shelters are providing cots, blankets and food for the displaced residents.”
(Photo is of the debris ball northeast of Vilonia, AR, after the tornado had reached its maximum strength. Courtesy of @okcstormwatcher on Twitter.)