SPC Stats

Path length: 121.84 miles

Width:  1320 yards

Fatalities:  13

Injuries:  139

Rating:  EF4

County:  Yell, Pope, Conway, Van Buren, Stone, Izard, Sharp

The second largest February tornado outbreak since 1950 occurred during the evening of February 5 and early morning of February 6, 2008.  The event began on Super Tuesday, while 24 U.S. states were holding primary elections and caucuses to select the presidential candidates for the upcoming presidential election.  87 tornadoes occurred in nine states with 57 fatalities in four states.  There were five violent EF4 tornadoes reported: 2 in Tennessee, 2 in Alabama and 1 in Arkansas.

Outbreak map extracted from the NOAA Assessment of the Event

The GOES satellite infrared imagery of the storms that spawned the twisters via NOAA Visualizations

This summary looks at the long-track EF4 tornado that pushed through 7 counties in the state of Arkansas on February 5, 2008.  This is the longest tornado path on record (1950-current) in the state.  It was a continuous track that was confirmed by two National Weather Service meteorologists who flew the track with the Civil Air Patrol.  The final track was based on ground surveys, the Civil Air Patrol flight, and an aerial mapping flight performed for the Arkansas Forestry Commission.

Here is a chart from the NWS Little Rock about this long-track record:

This tornado began 2 miles SSE of Neely in Yell County.  Minor EF0 tree damage was recorded. It moved into the Holla Bend Nationla Wildlife Refuge in Pope County.  Damage here increased to EF1 status . Trees were blown down on the southeast side of the refuge.

The tornado moved back into Yell County in the Carden Bottoms area.  There was minor EF0 rated damage to two structures and numerous trees were blown down.  The tornado moved across the Arkansas River and SW of Atkins, back in Pope County.

The tornado strengthened in this area and the width grew to 1050 yards.  Per the Red Cross, 46 homes were destroyed and 19 homes had major damage.  6 mobile homes and several businesses were destroyed.  Countlees trees, power lines and power poles were blown down. The tornado crossed I-40 and numerous cars were blown off the road.

A fatality occurred in Lucky Landing.  A woman was thrown from her mobile home.

On the east side of Atkins, Jimmy, Dana and Emmy Cherry were killed in their destroyed home.    

In the Happy Bend community, a man left his mobile home and took shelter in a large, metal, intermodal shipping container.  The container was blown hundreds of yards into the woods and the man was killed.

The tornado left Pope County and entered Conway County west of Hattieville.  The tornado mainted EF3 strength in this county.  Per FEMA, 56 residences (houses and mobile homes) sufferered damage.  32 were destroyed.  Numerous chicken houses were destroyed and approximately 80,000 chickens were killed.

An elderly couple was killed SSW of Cleveland when their mobile home was destroyed.

The tornado moved into Van Buren County, SSE of Beverage Town.  It strengthened to an EF4.  Per the Red Cross, 41 houses and 21 mobile homes were destroyed.  A boat factory in Clinton was demolished and a church and several businesses had significant damage.  There were 3 fatalities in this county.  One person was killed in a home 3.2 miles SSW of Clinton, one died at the boat factory and one person passed away in a mobile home near Shirley.

The tornado continued is long-track into Stone County, SW of Rushing.  It maintained EF4 status.  Per the Red Cross, 24 houses and 14 mobile homes were destroyed.  There was major damage to businesses near the intersection of Arkansas Highways 5 and 14 on the SE side of Mountain View.  A car dealership was destroyed.  Some of the cars on the sales lot were thrown across the highway.  One of the cars was lifted over a building and tossed into a ravine.  A utility pole was pulled out of the ground and then a large part of the pole was “jammed back into the ground with all the wires still attached.”

The Stone County Medical Center had extensive damage.  Several doctors’ offices were destroyed.  Major damage at a fire station, body shop, paint shop and car parts store.

One person was killed in a house east of the Highwy 5/14 intersection.

This twister moved out of Stone County and into Izard County NW of Guion.  Damage was found to be EF3.  FEMA reported 43 residences (homes and mobile homes) were destroyed.  A cattle farmer lost hundreds of cattle.  There was a fatality in a mobile home in the Rose Trail ara and in another death occurred in a mobile home in Zion.

The tornado was close to coming to an end.  It left Izard county and moved into Sharp County NW of Evening Shade.  Damage in the county was still estimated at EF3.  Per the Red Cross, 30 homes and 10 mobile homes were destroyed.  About 40 business along US Highway 62.412 in Highland were damaged/destroyed.  A church was also destroyed.  The tornado ended NE of Highland.

Tornado Path

Full Path

Click Map To Enlarge

SPC coordinates:  Start: 35.0975 / -93.0733   End:  36.2859 / -91.4714

Used NCDC County Coordinates as well      

Note:  Exact tornado path may not be straight and/or continuous.

Early Part of Path
Latter Part of Path

Images from the NWS Little Rock Summary

From the NWS Little Rock: The WSR-88D (Doppler Weather Radar) Storm Relative Velocity Map (SRM) image indicates strong rotation in northern Conway County between Russellville (Pope County) and Clinton (Van Buren County) at 519 pm CST on 02/05/2008. Strong inbound winds (green/blue colors) are adjacent (gate-to-gate) to strong outbound winds (red/yellow/purple colors)...indicating a lot of rotation. In fact, the radar TVS (Tornado Vortex Signature) algorithm detected a tornado...with a red triangle placed at the center of the rotation.
From the NWS Little Rock: A tornado approached Clinton (Van Buren County) from the southwest toward sunset on 02/05/2008. The photo is courtesy of Josh Smith.
Izard County: This jeep found itself in a tree. Standing in front of the jeep is Dan Koch, Information Technology Officer (ITO) at the National Weather Service in Little Rock.
Atkins (Pope County)
Cleveland (Conway County)
Clinton (Van Buren County). This was the boat plant that got destroyed.
Atkins (Pope County)
Cleveland (Conway County)
Clinton (Van Buren County).
Van Buren County: A new home was ripped from the foundation and thrown into a field just northeast of town on Highway 16.
Van Buren County: There was nothing left of a dentist's office.
Mountain View (Stone County)

The NWS in Little Rock encountered some interesting things during their survey and shared their stories on this page:

https://www.weather.gov/lzk/stories020508yr.htm

One example: A license plate was driven into a tree by a tornado (rated EF4) near Zion (Izard County) on 02/05/2008. The plate has been modified for privacy.

Videos

Sources:

The Storm Prediction Center

NCDC Storm Events Database

February 2008 Storm Data Publication

NOAA Service Assessment on the Super Tuesday Outbreak

NWS Little Rock Summary

Arkansas Online Press Services. “Funeral Held for Atkins Family as Bush Tours Tornado Damage.” Arkansas Online, 8 Feb. 2008, www.arkansasonline.com/news/2008/feb/08/funeral-held-atkins-family-bush-tours-tornado-dama/.

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