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Roads flood across region; Tornado spotted in Benton County, forecasters say

by NWA Democrat-Gazette | April 28, 2021 at 2:47 p.m.
A man and a woman are reunited after the man was rescued from the water and the woman was rescued from a flooded home Wednesday near Little Flock. The Bella Vista and Rogers Water Rescue assisted Little Flock with the call.

[Update: 2:45 p.m.]

Flash flooding hindered access to the Northwest Arkansas National Airport from the south this morning, according to airport officials.

Routes to the airport from the south, including Arkansas 112, Arkansas 612 and Arkansas 264 have flash flooding issues, according to Alex English. Routes from the north, from Bentonville remain open, English said.

A couple of departing flights were delayed.

[Update: 11:03 a.m.]

Robert McGowen, Benton County’s administrator of public safety, said he had received a report of a tornado down in northeast Benton County. McGowen said they have people headed to the area to check to see if there are any damages.

McGowen said he had also heard of reports of swift water rescues.

Benton County listed more than 10 roads as impassable in a news release Wednesday morning.

The Springdale Fire Department responded to several reports of vehicles driving into water and becoming trapped, including one Springdale school bus, but no injuries were reported. Assistant Fire Chief Ron Skelton said the department was called to the area of 5014 Kelly Road at 7:43 a.m. to assist with the school bus. Skelton said he did not know how many students were on the bus at the time, but said everyone was transported from the scene in a single Chevrolet Tahoe.

Skelton said another school bus was stopped in a neighborhood in the area of King Arthur Road and Ball Road when the driver was unable to find a way out of the neighborhood that was not flooded.

Skelton said the fire department was called to six or seven instances of vehicles in water, but no injuries were reported.

Leslee Wright, a spokeswoman for the Bentonville School District, said a district bus slid into a ditch and into water on Battlefield Road near Central Avenue in Bentonville. She said one student was on the bus, but neither the student nor the driver was injured, and the student was transported to school.

Bentonville Police Chief Jon Simpson said it’s a busy time with some streets impassable because of high water. Simpson did not have a list of street closings. He said there have been a couple of accidents, but no serious injuries.

Keith Foster, a Rogers Police Department spokesman, said he didn’t have a list of closed roads, but there are many. He said firefighters have responded to many swift water rescues. Foster said people are being advised to get out of their cars and get on the hoods or roofs until firefighters can come get them.

“The main thing is saving lives and then we will take care of the property,” Foster said.

Foster said he has not seen any reports of accidents involving serious injuries.

Foster said South Eighth Street from New Hope Road to Dyke Road is closed due to flooding.

Steve Harrison, assistant chief with Central Emergency Medical Services, said the ambulance service had been called out to four reports of vehicles trapped in flood water. Harrison said no injuries were reported and no one was transported from those incidents.

Sgt. Anthony Murphy with the Fayetteville Police Department said the department had received three or four calls of accidents Wednesday morning, but none were specifically weather-related.

Kelly Cantrell of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said the Sheriff’s Office had received nine weather-related calls beginning around 7:30 a.m., including the call to King Arthur Road. The other calls were reporting roads closed due to flooding or because of fallen trees blocking the roads, Cantrell said.

The National Weather Service office in Tulsa said the storm system that began moving through Northwest Arkansas Tuesday night had dropped from 1 to 3 inches of rain across most of the area by mid-morning Wednesday, with rainfall of 4 to 6 inches being reported in some areas. Joe Sellers, meteorologist with the weather service, said the forecast calls for another 2 to 4 inches of rain in the region before the system moves out of the area Thursday morning.

A weather briefing from McGowen sent after 10 a.m. Wednesday said in addition to flooding concerns is the potential for additional severe weather over Northwest Arkansas into tonight with a cold front approaching and moving into the region. The greater severe threat looks to be along and south of Interstate 44 in eastern Oklahoma and across Nothwest Arkansas with damaging wind, large hail and also a tornado threat possible, according to the brief.

Lt. Shannon Jenkins, a spokeswoman for the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, said deputy’s and road department crews were working to block flooded roads.

She encouraged people to stay off flooded roadways.

“It doesn’t take much water to wash away a vehicle,” Jenkins said. “Inches of water can sweep one away.”

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UPDATE -- 10:25 a.m.:

Threats of flooding and tornadoes began early Wednesday in Northwest Arkansas.

Potential severe storms and floods will remain a threat into Thursday, according to forecasters.

Several roads in Benton County are impassable because of heavy rain, according to a news release from the county.

The city of Rogers has recommended that residents avoid driving because of the flooding, according to a city news release.

"Rogers first responders have already responded to dozens of water rescues. We continue to respond to calls for water rescue from a stalled motorists in nearly all parts of the city," the release states. "We encourage residents who have made it away from home to proceed with extreme caution when returning home as road conditions may have worsened since you left home this morning."

Flash flood warnings were issued for areas of Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville, Fayetteville, Farmington and Berryville through 7:45 p.m.

A tornado was spotted in Benton County around 8 a.m.

"At 802 AM CDT, a confirmed tornado was located 3 miles south of Garfield, moving northeast at 25 mph," the National Weather Service reported on its site.

The service issued a tornado warning through 8:30 a.m. for Garfield and Gateway in Benton County and another through 8:45 a.m. for Busch and Beaver in Carroll County.

A tornado watch issued for much of Northwest Arkansas through 10 a.m. was expanded to include Carroll and Madison counties.

A severe thunderstorm warning, which notes the possibility of hail and 60 miles per hour winds, was issued for Springdale, Rogers and Bentonville through 9 a.m. and for Berryville, Huntsville, Eureka Springs, Green Forest, Oak Grove and Blue Eye through 9:30 a.m.

A high temperature of 73 and a low of 61 is predicted for Wednesday in Fayetteville, according to the service.

Courtesy photo -- The National Weather Service
Courtesy photo -- The National Weather Service

EARLIER -- 7:35 a.m.:

Benton and Washington counties could see a tornado Wednesday as storms with heavy showers move through Northwest Arkansas, forecasters say.

The counties are under a tornado watch until 10 a.m. Wednesday and a flood watch through 7 a.m. Thursday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

Parts of the region could see over three and a half inches of rain through Friday morning.

A tornado warning was briefly issued and then cancelled for part of Washington County that included Lincoln and Prairie Grove around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday.

A high temperature of 73 and a low of 61 is predicted for Wednesday in Fayetteville, according to the service.

Courtesy photo -- The National Weather Service
Courtesy photo -- The National Weather Service

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