Path length: 23 miles
Width: 150 yards
County: Faulkner, White
On December 14, 1987, a tornado touched down 4 miles SW of West Memphis and tracked northeast at 60 mph. It traveled 12 miles in Crittenden County (AR) before crossing the Mississippi River into Shelby County (TN) where it moved another 13 miles before lifting.
Per the NWS survey: 1500 people were left homeless in West Memphis (nearly 5% of the population at the time). The entire county was without power as the tornado severed two 500,000 volt power lines and three 161,000 volt lines. There were 6 fatalities blamed on the event.
The tornado came within 400 yards of a dog racetrack which had 6000-7000 people in attendance. No-one was hurt at the track.
The greatest damage in Shelby County, TN was to the Northhaven housing development. 30 homes were destroyed. There were 21 reported injuries.
Overall stats: Rating was F3. The tornado traveled a total of 25 miles and reached a max width of 200 yards. There were 6 fatalities and 121 injuries.
Thomas Grazulis in his Significant Tornadoes Book documented how all of the fatalities occurred:
- A woman died in her mobile home
- An elderly bed-ridden man was crushed by the failing wall of a boarding house
- A teenager was killed in a parking lot
- A one-year-old child was killed in an apartment building
- One person died in a car thrown from Interstate 40
- One person died in the parking lot of a truck stop
Images via NWS Little Rock/Storm Data
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