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Sardis twister confirmed as EF-2 strength

Teams continue to survey; additional reports forecast by Grant Lancaster | November 6, 2022 at 7:47 a.m.
Jeff Denman helps clean up debris on a neighbor's property on Pruett Rd. in Saline County south of Little Rock on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022 after severe weather moved through the area late Friday. See more photos at (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Colin Murphey)

An EF-2 tornado touched down near Sardis on Friday night, causing damage to homes and snapping trees, National Weather Service personnel confirmed Saturday.

They said it seemed likely that additional reports of tornadoes, including one near Wickes in Polk County, would be confirmed.

Before hitting Arkansas, the storm spawned other tornadoes, killing at least two people, in Texas and Oklahoma, and injured dozens of others, officials said.

No injuries or deaths in Arkansas had been reported from the storms as of Saturday, said John Lewis, senior forecaster with the National Weather Service in Little Rock, although he said that could change when survey teams reach affected areas and get in touch with locals.

"Right now it's just word-of-mouth," Lewis said.

The twister that hit near Sardis in Saline County a few minutes after 11 p.m. produced winds that peaked at a speed of 115 mph and tracked a path about 1.6 miles long and 200 yards wide at its widest, according to a tweet from the weather agency.

The worst damage was along Pruett Road, where several homes were damaged, the tweet stated.

The Enhanced Fujita Scale defines an EF-2 tornado as one with winds of 113 to 157 mph and capable of causing "considerable damage."

Survey teams were still inspecting storm damage elsewhere, such as Wickes in Polk County, where forecasters suspect they will be able to confirm that a tornado of roughly similar strength to the one near Sardis struck, Lewis said.

"Damage over in Wickes sounds fairly substantial. That's probably gonna be a tornado," Lewis said.

A local coordinator in Wickes said at least 12 homes were damaged by the storm, the weather service reported.

Survey teams were still working their way toward other areas where damage appeared to be more concentrated than what is expected from high winds produced by a regular storm, Lewis said.

One of those areas was near Kirby in Pike County. Another was near Gamaliel in Baxter County, Lewis said.

Although Friday's storms affected power for thousands of Arkansans, most if not all of the outages appeared to be repaired by Saturday afternoon.

Earlier Saturday, Entergy spokeswoman Brandi Hinkle said a peak of about 18,400 outages were reported at 12:30 a.m. Saturday. In some cases, crews had to restore power multiple times throughout the night and early morning, which is not unusual during a storm.

Roughly 2,500 Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas customers were without power shortly after 8 a.m., according to the utility group's outage map.

That number had fallen to 528 customers by Saturday evening.

In Oklahoma, Gov. Kevin Stitt surveyed the damage in Idabel in the state's southeast and reported on social media that a 90-year-old man had been killed.

Keli Cain, spokesperson for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, said the man's body was found at his home in the Pickens area of McCurtain County, about 36 miles north of Idabel.

The rural town of about 7,000 at the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains saw extensive damage, Cain said.

"There are well over 100 homes and businesses damaged from minor damage to totally destroyed," Cain said.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol also reported a 6-year-old girl drowned and a 43-year-old man was missing after water swept their vehicle off a bridge near Stilwell, about 135 miles north of Idabel. The drowning has not been officially attributed to the storm and will be investigated by the medical examiner, Cain said.

In northeastern Texas, Morris County Judge Doug Reeder said in a social media post that one person died as a result of a tornado, offering no other details.

Elsewhere in Texas, the National Weather Service in Fort Worth confirmed three tornadoes -- in Lamar, Henderson and Hopkins counties – Friday night.

Lamar County Judge Brandon Bell said at least two dozen people were injured across the county.

Information for this article was contributed by Remington Miller of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and by Jake Bleiberg and Ken Miller of The Associated Press.

 Gallery: Severe Weather Damage

Print Headline: Sardis twister confirmed as EF-2 strength


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