The April 25-28, 2011 Super Outbreak started on an active note for the state of Arkansas. Eighteen tornadoes occurred across the state on April 25. We take an in-depth look at four of these, two of which caused fatalities.

Bear-Lake Ouachita State Park EF2

SPC Stats

Path length: 14.44 miles

Width:  300 yards

Fatalities:  0

Injuries:  10

Rating:  EF2

County:  Garland

Tornado Path

SPC coordinates:  34.5066 / -93.302    End:  34.664 / -93.135

Corrected coordinates Based on Analysis of Aerial and Satellite Imagery:

Start:  34.495222 / -93.304758    End: 34.663333 / -93.138902 

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

Summary

This tornado, given an EF2 rating, tracked 15.4 miles through Garland County, AR. At the beginning of the path, a motor home was knocked over on its side on Ragweed Valley Road. Mark Hunt, a customer service manager for Entergy, told The Sentinel-Record that there was tremendous damage to utility poles. Areas around Ragweed Valley Road would have to be “completely rebuilt.” It was reported that “trees hit utility poles mid-span, and if the tree was large enough, it broke the tops of the poles.” The twister continued to the northeast, moving into the Bear community. A tree landed on the home of Tiffany and Kyle Hill on Brady Mountain Road. They were not injured.

The tornado reached peak intensity in forested areas 1.5 miles NNE of Bear. An impressive swath of 100% treefall occurred here between two small ridges. It also reached a maximum width at this location 1,140 yards. The impressive size was not long-lived, and it soon entered Lake Ouachita in a much smaller and slightly weaker state

Significant damage occurred at Lake Ouachita State Park. Lee Hiler, a photographer, posts on his blog “Hike Our Planet” images of the damage at the park. He noted the tree damage along the Caddo Bend Trail, a 4-mile loop on a peninsula that extended out into the lake. Per the blog on November 11, 2012, “I had not hiked the trail since the winter of 2011, and now I found myself in what felt like an alien landscape. It is dramatic to step from dense forest into places devoid of trees. One moment cradled in leafy beauty, then suddenly out in the bright sunlight surrounded by fallen and snapped off Trees.” At least 170 acres of forest was flattened in the park. The tornado dissipated 3.82 miles WSW of Blue Springs. According to a Red Cross survey, one house was destroyed, four had major damage, and 16 others with minor damage. Three trailers sustained significant damage, and nine had minor damage.

Images

Blowdown along Brady Road via the Army Corp of Engineers.
Images of the blowdown on Brady Road via the Army Corp of Engineers.
Significant tree damage at Lake Ouachita State Park via Army Corps of Engineers.
Another angle of the damage at Lake Ouachita. Image via Army Corps of Engineers.
Sign at the Lake Ouachita State Park via Lee Hiller.
Treefall along the Caddo Bend Trail at Lake Ouachita State Park. Image via Lee Hiller.
Caddo Bend trail tree damage. Image via Lee Hiller.
Looking at Lake Ouachita from Caddo Bend Trail. This view would've been completely obscured by the tree, prior to the tornado. Image via Lee Hiller.
Aerial view of the intense blow down along Brady Road via Google Earth.

Discrepancies:

We gathered information for this event from the SPC and NCDC Databases, the April 2011 Storm Data Publication (SDP), and analysis of aerial and satellite imagery and found the following differences:

Path Length:

  • The SPC/NCDC/SDP list a path length of 14.44 miles.
  • Analysis of the damage indicates a path length of 15.38 miles.

    Path Width:

    • The SPC/NCDC/SDP list a maximum width of 300 yards.
    • Analysis of the damage indicates a maximum width of 1,140 yards.

      Walnut Valley-Hot Springs Village EF3

      SPC Stats

      Path length: 16.78 miles

      Width:  300 yards

      Fatalities:  1

      Injuries:  20

      Rating:  EF3

      County:  Garland, Saline

      Tornado Path

      SPC coordinates:  34.5903 / -93.039    End:  34.733 / -92.8

      Corrected coordinates Based on Analysis of Aerial and Satellite Imagery:

      Start:  34.558834 / -93.084306    End: 34.744659 / -92.796141 

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

      Summary

      The highest-rated tornado of the 18 that occurred in Arkansas on April 25, 2011, traveled 21.3 miles through Garland and Saline Counties. For the first few miles of the track, the tornado moved through mainly heavy forest. Satellite analysis shows the tornado began approximately 1.25 miles south of the Hot Springs Reservoir near Kelly Hollow Drive. It moved with a narrow path to the northeast parallel to Poulan Trail and then crossed the trail, jogged to the north-northeast, and widened slightly. The tornado made a turn along Breshears Road to the east-northeast. Along this part of the path, there were pockets of snapped and uprooted trees.

      It reached a width of 630 yards (0.35 miles) near Milroy Trail. The tornado essentially maintained this width and was intense along a 1.5 mile stretch from near Milroy Trail and Walnut Valley Road to Highway 7. Numerous homes were heavily damaged or destroyed along this part of the path.

      One of the homes destroyed on Walnut Valley Road was owned by David Bigley. He told The Sentinel-Record, “I’ve been through storms like this before, but this was the first to happen so suddenly.” David and his grandchildren were in the living room when they lost power. He recalled hearing what sounded like a locomotive. The family ran into the bathroom, and suddenly several trees fell on that end of the home. “The house shook for 10 to 15 seconds, and it was over. As for coping with something like this, you don’t. It happens so fast you can’t think about it.” The family survived.

      Billy Curtis’ Walnut Valley home was destroyed. He had owned this residence for 20 years, and it was the strongest storm he had seen roll through that area. Near Narrow Lane and Arkansas 7, pieces of homes and downed trees littered the landscape. Per the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on April 27, 2011, “In one yard, all that stood where a mobile home once sat was a front door and a toilet. The home’s injured owner dragged a mattress to a nearby field and planted an American flag in the middle before he was taken to a hospital, neighbors said.”

      Jamie Longsioux had been in town when she got word the storms were rolling in. She tried to rush to her mobile home and her four kids. “There was a fender bender in front me, and then I ran out of gas trying to get here. It was terrifying. I made it to the Shag’s Car Lot and pleaded with the man there to give me a ride,” Jamie told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The mom made it home and sought shelter with her kids at a nearby church. After the tornado hit, Jamie returned to a heavily damaged trailer. Trees had crashed through her daughter’s room, and another was on the roof above the living room. “It was just destroyed,” she said. “I got the most important things out of the trailer before the storm – you know, my children. We’re all OK.”

      The Teen Challenge of Arkansas at the intersection of Walnut Valley Road and Highway 7 was handed a hard blow by the tornado. Two staff members sought shelter in the basement in one of the bathrooms. “It sounded like a 747 flying right above our heads,” staff member Cathy Thompson said to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Teen Challenge Executive Director Tim Culbreth told The Sentinel-Record, “The most important thing is that no one was hurt. I did have a couple of staff people with some bumps and cuts. Two of our staff people were in our store office building, and that’s pretty much a complete loss.” There were 35-40 residents who had been moved out of the dorms into the multi-purpose building. This was a part of their safety plan. “Everyone got down on the ground and stayed calm. It was an exciting evening for everyone,” Culbreth said.

      Per the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the iron beams of the Teen Challenge of Arkansas rehabilitation center were twisted “like a spider’s legs.” Roofs were removed from several buildings. The most severe damage occurred to the 13,000-square-foot building at the front of the property. It contained the administrative offices and Vintage Mall. The entire left side of the building was demolished.

      Garland County Coroner Stuart Smedley saw the storm coming and tried to race home. Before he could get there, he had to park near the Teen Challenge Vintage Mall. The tornado passed, and he was safe, but his trek home became more interesting due to the tremendous amount of downed trees on the roads. The Sentinel-Record reported he had to “crawl the rest of the way home.”

      “We had an after-school program and still had 15 workers here, but we had them lay in the hallway. I saw it coming over the top of the trees,” said Walnut Valley Baptist Church pastor Tim Forrest in an article in The Sentinel-Record. Only 30 minutes before the tornado hit, there were approximately 60 kids at the church. In an article on arkansasonline.com, Mike Kolasch, a volunteer with the after-school program, said, “The last child had been picked up not five minutes before the worst part of the storm hit.”

      Youth pastor Sam Bierig was one of the staff who remained in the building. Per the Saline Courier, “We knew it was going to get bad, but we didn’t know just how bad,” he said. “We all got in the hallway of the fellowship hall. Some of us were very scared, some of us were just praying, and I was thinking about a lot of different Bible verses.” He added, “It got pretty intense. We saw stuff flying around just 30 feet from us, our ears were popping, but no one inside the church had any kind of damage to their bodies. God really protected us.”

      Heavy damage occurred to the church buildings and across the property. Three vans were damaged, and one was flipped onto a smaller sports car. Across the parking lot, three homes near the highway were obliterated. The foyer of the church was destroyed, and several other buildings were unroofed.

      After the storm had passed, Rachael Jeans and her father Jeffrey emerged from their Walnut Valley area home to help a neighbor on Narrow Lane. They stopped to talk to a firefighter when a man ran toward them with a baby in his arms. Rachael held him, attempting to keep him warm. She told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, “He was just wearing this diaper that was soaked through with water.” He was struggling to breathe, like he was in shock. His eyes were barely open…There was nothing I could do.” Rachael and Jeffrey noticed the baby had a knot on his head that started to bruise. They frantically searched for more help and called for an ambulance. “We didn’t know where the ambulance was, and we thought we were going to have to try to drive him to the hospital,” she said. “Then someone yelled that the ambulance was coming, and they took him off my lap and ran him to the ambulance.” Tragically, 8-month-old Alexander Ellington suffered a brain injury and didn’t survive. He was the sole fatality in this tornado.

      The tornado moved away from Highway 7 and made its way east-northeast into the Ranch Estates area. Numerous homes in this subdivision had varying degrees of damage. April Paholke and her children told KATV that she knew the storm was coming and calmly told her children they were going to the basement to play a game. “We’re going to play a game, and when I say go hide, we’ve got to go to the bathroom and hug ourselves,” Paholke recalls telling her children. “Two minutes after I said that our electricity went out, and I said, ‘Go hide.’ And no sooner as I went in and covered them, the glass blew through.” The family survived with little injury, but the home was devastated.

      From Ranch Estates, the tornado turned to the northeast and moved through more sparsely populated areas. Still, there was significant blowdown and minor damage to buildings. The twister snaked its way out of Garland County and into Saline County at Hot Springs Village.

      Thousands of trees were downed along the Saline County portion of the track. A tree smashed on the back of The Christ Luthern Church. Several homes behind the church, including one under construction, were damaged by falling trees. At the head of Lake Balboa, on Balboa Drive, a utility building on the property of Village Church of Christ was destroyed. The church building was not damaged. Over 100 homes suffered some degree of damage from the falling trees. A cell phone tower was blown down, and there were widespread power outages.

      Betty Alsaugh documented her story for the Hot Spring Village Voice on May 4, 2011. She told this story very well, and we include it in its entirety here.

      “Call me Lucky – that’s right, with a capital L.

      And chalk me up as one of the fortunate ones who have driven through a tornado and lived to report it.

      Monday evening, after driving home through rainy weather from Alabama, I convinced my husband to take me out to dinner.

      It was about 6:15, and we’d only listened to the weather reports sporadically, occupied with unpacking from the trip and tending to our new puppy.

      We left the house on the upper reaches of Lake Balboa in a heavy rain and turned onto Balboa Road heading south.

      As we topped a rise in the road, the rain suddenly became a screaming torrent, and powerful winds buffeted the car.

      Large, heavy objects hurtled through the air, hitting our Durango; we could see trees falling across the road in front of us. At least one tree hit the car, but because we were moving forward, it glanced off the roof.

      “Turn around!” I shouted above the roar.

      Skillfully, he brought the car around to find that another huge tree had fallen across the road behind us. We thought we were trapped in the storm.

      Fortunately, Mark’s Colorado off-road experience helped us find a way out.

      At the intersection with Levantino, he found enough shoulder to creep around the final fallen tree blocking our path.

      Off we drove with the rain, hail and storm still pounding us.

      We found an open space without trees – the Balboa Pavilion parking lot – and waited for the storm to die down so we could find our way home. That proved harder than we’d thought.

      Taking Ponce de Leon to DeSoto Boulevard, we turned toward home – only to find that the storm had pounced onto Faith Lutheran Church, knocked down what looked like dozens, but proved later to be hundreds, of trees, taking major power lines with it and then whirled through neighborhoods to the northeast of that, blocking roads all the way.

      Finally backtracking down Balearic, up San Sebastian and Minorca roads to DeSoto, we gingerly drove home among and around the storm debris, hoping to find the place and the pets intact and safe. Success!

      No power, but the home and pets were all fine, a few leaves in the street, nothing much out of place.

      Or so we thought. Our street looked fine. As far as we could see that evening. The next morning, we drove to the far end of the street, Marinero Way, and found another world – the epitome of a war zone or the aftermath of a bomb blast.

      The storm that had been spawned somewhere south of Teen Challenge and Walnut Valley had chewed its way across the local landscape as an EF 2 Tornado, racing across Arkansas to claim the lives of several Arkansans in Vilonia and elsewhere.

      As it crossed Hot Springs Village and the countryside around it, this deadly force of nature, with top winds of 135 mph, tossed huge old trees around like toothpicks, sank boats and boat docks, and turned construction framing into kindling.

      The sound of chain saws filled the air as we checked with neighbors and watched as four, five, sometimes more trees were being removed from their homes. Disaster Relief teams from Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church, Balboa Road Baptist and other churches brought equipment and relief supplies and refused to accept either payment or donations.

      One neighbor, a cancer patient weakened by chemo, was unable to walk to a vehicle waiting beyond the trees that blocked the road. His son-in-law carried him out on his back.

      The unending offers of help ranged from beds and showers to hot meals, laundry facilities and other help as needed.

      It was an illustration, once again, that Hot Springs Village truly is a remarkable place, and a reminder of the good fortune of us all.”

      Images

      Damage to the Church in Ozark Lithia, via NWS Little Rock.
      High-resolution aerial imagery taken on October 14, 2011, showing the tree damage caused by the tornado via Google Earth. The orange outline in the tornado's path.

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      Discrepancies:

      We gathered information for this event from the SPC and NCDC Databases, the April 2011 Storm Data Publication (SDP), and analysis of aerial and satellite imagery and found the following differences:

      Path Length:

      • The SPC/NCDC/SDP list a path length of 16.78 miles.
      • Analysis of the damage indicates a path length of 21.25 miles.

        Path Width:

        • The SPC/NCDC/SDP list a maximum width of 300 yards.
        • Analysis of the damage indicates a maximum width of 950 yards.

          Vilonia EF2

          Path length: 68.1 miles

          Width:  2900 yards

          Fatalities:  4

          Injuries:  16

          Rating:  EF2

          County:  Pulaski, Faulkner, White

          Tornado Path

          SPC coordinates:  34.8057 / -92.6075    End:  35.3098 / -91.9473

          Corrected coordinates Based on Analysis of Aerial and Satellite Imagery:

          Start:  34.802136 / -92.615303    End: 35.302523 / -91.940517 

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

          Summary

          The tornado formed 19 miles WNW of Downtown Little Rock. In the first six miles of its track, it caused minor tree damage. Some trees fell on homes and power lines in Northpoint. It crossed Lake Maumelle and quickly strengthened. The tornado widened from 300 yards to 1500 yards (0.87 miles) after crossing the lake. Significant tree damage occurred north of Natural Steps, and four large metal transmission towers were toppled.

          The twister crossed the Arkansas River and moved along the Faulkner/Pulaski County border for 2.41 miles before it fully crossed into Pulaski County. The Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church sustained heavy damage. A tree also fell through a house. The tornado tracked across Interstate 40 in extreme northern Pulaski County and then crossed back into Faulkner County.

          It tracked through the Bell Slough State Wildlife Management Area, east-southeast of Mayflower. Thousands of trees were toppled there. The tornado widened to a mile as it crossed Highway 89 and entered the Camp Robinson State Wildlife Management Area. Significant tree damage occurred here. The neighboring Arkansas Fish and Game Commission was hit, and it sustained minor roof damage to several structures. Minor damage also occurred to neighboring homes.

          The tornado crossed Wilson Hill about two miles southeast of Saltillo. Minor damage occurred to houses on the hill. Aerial imagery shows that suction vortices caused several narrow swaths of significant treefall.

          The tornado then plowed into the Black Oak Ranch Estates, about 5.25 miles SW of Vilonia. It reached its peak width (1.35 miles) and maximum intensity here. Dozens of homes, trailers, and outbuildings were heavily damaged or destroyed. One brick home lost the entire roof and all exterior walls, and several double-wide trailers were swept away.

          The four fatalities attributed to this tornado occurred At Black Oak Ranch Estates. David and Katherine Talley evacuated their mobile home and decided to take refuge in a “shipping container.” The enclosure resembled one that could be used on an 18-wheeler or trailer and was used for storage. The container was thrown approximately 150 yards into Blacks Lake Number Two and became partially submerged. The couple died instantly. Their bodies were recovered by Faulkner County Emergency Squad divers.

          Craig Garvin was killed when his manufactured home was thrown 60 yards. Debris was windrowed away from the impact site. Charles Austin Mitchell was in his manufactured home when the tornado hit. It was thrown 65 yards, and Mr. Mitchell did not survive.

          The tornado was 2100 yards (1.20 miles) wide as it crossed Highway 64, just southwest of Vilonia. Two tractor-trailers were tossed, including one that spilled its load of product onto the highway. The large funnel slammed into the western side of Vilonia, causing major damage to several dozens of buildings over a large area.

          Richard Bass had just finished dinner with his three children. He reported to CBS News the day after the twister that he felt the air pressure change. His family ran into a closet that was designed to be a tornado shelter. Within seconds, the tornado hit, and the house was destroyed. The entire roof and some exterior walls were removed. The family was uninjured. Amanda Russell purchased her first home in January of 2011. She took cover in the bathtub when the tornado roared in. The only thing remaining was four walls and that bathtub. She was not injured.

          The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette told the story of Mona Peach. “Everything was swirling, and I ran,” Mona said as she recalled her view from her two-story home’s front porch. She ran toward the basement, strong winds blew out a window, and she was pushed down the stairs. Now in the cellar, Mona said she “looked up, and the house just raised up off the foundation and sat back down.” Next door to Mona’s house was her second-generation-owned barbershop. It was destroyed, and she planned to rebuild.

          The paper reported that 86-year-old Lorean Shaw, 23 family members and friends, and a dog all sheltered in a “grass-covered storm shelter beside what used to be her mobile home.” Her adult grandsons had to use a piece of wood as a door. “It took all me and my three brothers had to hold the door shut,” Dustin Shaw, one of the grandsons, said. The entire crew survived.

          One of the hardest-hit neighborhoods was Quail Hollow. Ty Phillips told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette he was a “self-described ‘tornado buff.’” He went outside when the sirens sounded. “I went out in the backyard on my back porch and saw an incredibly wide tornado coming through,” he said. “I went in to go get my camera, because we thought it was farther away than it was. We saw two trampolines fly about 20 feet above the house behind us.”

          Ty, his wife Sharon, and their two teenagers jumped into the laundry room for shelter. They left their safe place unharmed and explored the damage in the neighborhood. For the Phillips family, the damage was confined to broken windows, a downed fence, and support beams from a covered back porch being removed. Other homes in the subdivision, though, had more substantial damage.

          Two years after the event, Mayor James Firestone and other residents were interviewed for an article in arkansasonline.com. “East of Quail Hollow [subdivision], the wooded area that was so pretty, it just looks like a war zone there now. Trees are still mangled,” Firestone said. Mary Wells and her husband Gene owned that land. “We lost 52 acres of trees between us and our son,” she said. “It was a typical, Southern, deciduous forest. We had some huge white oaks.”

          The night of the tornado, Mary and Gene sheltered in their storm cellar with their daughter-in-law and granddaughter. “We had a working windmill, and it fell on the storm cellar and trapped us there for about three hours,” Mary said. Another family member grabbed a chainsaw and walked three miles to help rescue them. Their home escaped major damage, but they did lose some outbuildings on the property.

          After hitting Vilonia, the rest of the tornado’s path in Faulkner County was in rural areas. Many more trees were toppled, and some houses and outbuildings were damaged or destroyed. The Red Cross indicated that in the Vilonia area, 34 houses were destroyed, 91 sustained major damage and 145 others with minor damage. 62 trailers were destroyed, 41 with major damage, and 43 other sustained minor damage.

          The tornado crossed into White County, south of Mount Vernon. Hundreds of trees were blown down. An RV was flipped. The roofs were damaged on some houses, and many barns and outbuildings were destroyed. The tornado finally dissipated 1.14 miles NNE of Joy.

          Images

          Radar of the tornado as it approached Vilonia, via NWS Little Rock.
          Destroyed mobile home, via NWS Little Rock.
          Federal Coordinating Officer Nancy Casper tours an area in Vilonia, Ark. that sustained damage after a tornado struck the area. Photo via FEMA
          Aerial photo of damage on Wilson Hill, about two miles southeast of Saltillo. Image via Arkansas Forestry Commission.
          Aerial imagery of the Black Oak Ranch Estates area. Image via Arkansas Forestry Commission.
          Damage in the vicinity of Blacks Lake Number Two, in the Black Oak Ranch Estates. Image via Arkansas Forestry Commission.
          Aerial image of Vilonia. Image via Arkansas Forestry Commission.
          Aerial imagery of a neighborhood on the Southwest Side of Vilonia. Image via Arkansas Forestry Commission.
          Damage on the western side of Vilonia. Image via Arkansas Forestry Commission.

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          Black Oak Ranch Area

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          Vilonia

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          2011 vs. 2014

          On April 27, 2014, three years and two days to the date after this tornado, an even stronger twister terrorized Vilonia. This EF4 was more destructive and powerful than the 2011 event. Many of the places that were hit in 2011 were completely wiped out in the second strike. Check out the GIFs below for a comparison of the damage.

          A before and after comparison of the damage from the 2011 and 2014 tornadoes to the Black Oak Ranch area. Image dates are given at top left. Image created using Google Earth and Forestry Commission imagery.

          A before and after comparison of the damage from the 2011 and 2014 tornadoes to residences along Autumnbrook Lane. Image dates are given at top left. Image created using Google Earth and Forestry Commission imagery.

          Discrepancies:

          We gathered information for this event from the SPC and NCDC Databases, the April 2011 Storm Data Publication (SDP), and analysis of aerial and satellite imagery and found the following differences:

          Path Length:

          • The SPC/NCDC/SDP list a path length of 68.1 miles.
          • The NCDC/SDP give a path length of 51.32 miles.
          • Analysis of the damage indicates a path length of 51.91 miles.

            Path Width:

            • The SPC/NCDC/SDP list a maximum width of 2900 yards.
            • Analysis of the damage indicates a maximum width of 2330 yards.

              Little Rock EF2

              SPC Stats

              Path length: 5.17 miles

              Width:  350 yards

              Fatalities:  0

              Injuries:  4

              Rating:  EF2

              County:  Pulaski

              Tornado Path

              SPC coordinates:  34.872 / -92.1702    End:  34.9355 / -92.122

              Corrected coordinates Based on Analysis of Aerial and Satellite Imagery:

              Start:  34.869018 / -92.172676    End: 34.954837 / -92.112311 

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

              Summary

              The tornado formed about 1 mile east of Gravel Ridge, along Route 63. It moved northeast through the Lost Creek neighborhood and then hit the North Pulaski High School, where it caused extensive damage. The roof was removed over the auditorium, and one of its walls collapsed. A wall also caved in at the chemistry building.

              The funnel then moved into the Little Rock Air Force Base. It pushed through an older section of base housing. These 50-year-old homes were recently remodeled, just before the tornado. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette documented several stories from the Little Rock A.F.B. event. Lisa Bramblett and her two sons took shelter in the bathtub. The house was demolished with only the three walls around the bathroom they were in left standing.

              “The tornado ate my roof. With its mouth.” That is 3-year-old Emery McNair. Her home was one of many that had significant damage. Emery and her parents Erik and Alex, her two sisters, and their dog Wilson sought shelter in the bathtub. Her dad suffered a minor injury when hit with debris. The bathroom fixtures were ripped out of the wall. Erik’s truck was hurled into their living room which was littered with tree branches, parts of the roof, and collapsed walls. The following day, Erik’s supervisor arrived at the house with a team of volunteers to help salvage what they could at the McNair home. Most of what they owned was lost. They were blessed to find Alex’s wedding rings under the truck in the living room.

              At least 135 of these homes were damaged or destroyed. Several were unroofed, and some exterior walls collapsed. A toilet was sucked out of one of these houses. It was found lodged in the roof of the Base Exchange Shopping Center, ½ mile away. The winds shattered glass in doors and windows at the shopping center. Shopping carts were scattered across the parking lot, and over a dozen cars were tossed about.

              The tornado then moved across the Little Rock AFB Storage lot, which houses RVs and flatbed trailers. Several of the trailers and RVs were knocked over. The tornado continued northeast, damaging roofs on several more structures on the base. It plowed through the fire station. The truck bays were demolished; however, the attached offices and living quarters were untouched. The twister then crossed the tarmac where Five C-130 Hercules Cargo planes were hit. Three were severely damaged. Several of them were torn from the chains that tethered them to the tarmac. The tornado exited the base, and it blew down trees until it lifted along Peters Road, 5.6 miles WSW of Cabot.

              Within minutes after the tornado’s strike on the Little Rock Air Force Base, the 19th Civil Engineer Squadron went into recovery mode. 1st Lt. Chad Fulgham, 19th Combat Engineer executive officer, was interviewed for a public relations article. “Our fire department fought their way out of their damaged facility to lead sweeps through the housing and industrial areas. They partnered with our defenders and housing residents already on scene to comb all the affected housing units and save the personnel that were present in them.”

              A total of four people were injured at the Air Force Base. The NWS documented that the tornado caused $125 million in damage. Within a week after the tornado, most of the debris had been hauled off the base. Per the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, more than 20 tons of sheet metal was recycled, some used to patch buildings. Approximately 140 damaged trees were hauled away. Fifty displaced families were given new homes within days after the storm.

              NWS Images

              Tornado near Gravel Ridge. Via NWS Little Rock.
              Damage at North Pulaski High School. Via NWS Little Rock.
              Housing damage at the Air Force Base. Via NWS Little Rock.
              Hangar damage at the Air Force Base. Via NWS Little Rock.

              Images via Little Rock Air Force Base

              Video

              Discrepancies:

              We gathered information for this event from the SPC and NCDC Databases, the April 2011 Storm Data Publication (SDP), and analysis of aerial and satellite imagery and found the following differences:

              Path Length:

              • The SPC/NCDC/SDP list a path length of 5.17 miles.
              • The NCDC/SDP give a path length of 6.86 miles.

                Sources:

                The Storm Prediction Center

                April 2011 Storm Data Publication

                NCDC Storm Events Database Entry-Bear-Lake Ouachita EF2: Webster County

                NCDC Storm Events Database Entry-Walnut Valley-Hot Springs Village EF3: Garland County

                NCDC Storm Events Database Entry-Walnut Valley-Hot Springs Village EF3: Saline County

                NCDC Storm Events Database Entry-Vilonia EF2: Pulaski County 1

                NCDC Storm Events Database Entry-Vilonia EF2: Faulkner County 1

                NCDC Storm Events Database Entry-Vilonia EF2: Pulaski County 2

                NCDC Storm Events Database Entry-Vilonia EF2: Faulkner County 2

                NCDC Storm Events Database Entry-Vilonia EF2: White County

                NCDC Storm Events Database Entry-Little Rock EF2: Pulaski County

                NWS Little Rock Event Summary

                Google Earth

                Google Maps

                Lee Hiller

                Deadly Tornado Devastates Arkansas Town – AP

                Powerful tornado hits Arkansas town – CBS News

                Garland County Emergency Management

                Arkansas Forestry Division

                Little Rock AFB

                ALSPAUGH, B 2011, ‘A survivor’s story’, Hot Springs Village Voice (AR), 4 May, (online NewsBank).

                Amy Upshaw, C.D., 2011. Storms return, take fewer hits. Arkansas Online.https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2011/apr/27/storms-return-take-fewer-hits-20110427/

                Anon, Tornado hits Little Rock AFB; officials still assessing damage. DVIDS.https://www.dvidshub.net/news/69381/tornado-hits-little-rock-afb-officials-still-assessing-damage

                Anon, 2011. Aerial photography shows damage at Little Rock Air Force Base following tornado. Little Rock Air Force Base.https://www.littlerock.af.mil/News/Article/356734/aerial-photography-shows-damage-at-little-rock-air-force-base-following-tornado/

                Anon, 2011. CPTS, CONS, CE take the base back to the future. Little Rock Air Force Base.https://www.littlerock.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/356605/cpts-cons-ce-take-the-base-back-to-the-future/

                ArkansasOnline 2011, ‘VIDEO: Governor tours Vilonia tornado damage – Beebe says all residents believed accounted for in town’, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Web Edition Articles (Little Rock, AR), 26 Apr, (online NewsBank).

                Burks, M 2011, ‘Tornado confirmed in HSV – EF1 hit Village, Saline County; EF3 hit just outside Saline on Highway 7’, Saline Courier, The (Benton, AR), 27 Apr, p. 1, (online NewsBank).

                Fisher, L., 2011. Volunteers clean up nonprofit. Arkansas Online. https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2011/may/05/volunteers-clean-nonprofit/

                GREGORY Managing editor, M 2011, ‘Army of linemen descends on county’, Sentinel-Record, The (Hot Springs, AR), 27 Apr, p. 1, (online NewsBank).

                HALE-SHELTON ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE, D 2011, ‘Vilonia reels from storm – Residents picking up pieces in twister’s wake’, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock, AR), 27 Apr, p. 5, (online NewsBank).

                KEITH Senior Writer, T 2011, ‘Service for two storm victims planned today’, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock, AR), 28 Apr, p. 69, (online NewsBank).

                KEITH Senior Writer, T 2011, ‘Storm Survivors – Vilonia residents recall deadly tornado’, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock, AR), 28 Apr, p. 69, (online NewsBank).

                Keith, T., 2013. Vilonia makes progress two years after tornado. Arkansas Online. https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2013/apr/25/vilonia-makes-progress-two-years-after-tornado/

                LAUER ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE, C 2011, ‘Baby hurt in tornado succumbs to injuries’, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock, AR), 29 Apr, p. 6, (online NewsBank).

                LAUER ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE, C 2011, ‘For storm baby, helping hands’, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock, AR), 27 Apr, p. 1, (online NewsBank).

                NEWSOMThe Sentinel-Record, J 2011, ‘Ross views devastation’, Sentinel-Record, The (Hot Springs, AR), 30 Apr, p. 1, (online NewsBank).

                NEWSOM JENN BALLARDThe Sentinel-Record, J 2011, ‘TORNADO CONFIRMED – EF2 ‘hopscotched’ county’, Sentinel-Record, The (Hot Springs, AR), 27 Apr, p. 1, (online NewsBank).

                Ouachita State Park gets trail repair. Baxter Bulletin (Mountain Home, Arkansas). October 31, 2011https://www.newspapers.com/image/321411890/?terms=Lake%20Ouachita%20tornado%20arkansas&match=1

                Person, 2011. Storms Damage Subdivision in Garland County. KATV.https://katv.com/archive/storms-damage-subdivision-in-garland-county

                SCHLESING ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE, A 2011, ‘At base, families pick up, restart – Life goes on after April twister’, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock, AR), 8 May, p. 1, (online NewsBank).

                SMITH The Sentinel-Record, J 2011, ‘Work continues to restore power in portion of Village’, Sentinel-Record, The (Hot Springs, AR), 27 Apr, p. 7, (online NewsBank).

                THOMASON The Sentinel-Record, D 2011, ”We just got in the hallway and prayed’ – Walnut Valley recovers from storm’, Sentinel-Record, The (Hot Springs, AR), 28 Apr, p. 1, (online NewsBank).

                THOMASON The Sentinel-Record, D 2011, ‘Teen Challenge recovers’, Sentinel-Record, The (Hot Springs, AR), 27 Apr, p. 1, (online NewsBank).

                UPSHAW, A 2011, ‘Storms maul state, kill 5 – Tornadoes abound; hit bad is Vilonia’, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock, AR), 26 Apr, p. 1, (online NewsBank).

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