Arkansas tornadoes kill at least 1, injure 2 dozen


Published: Saturday, May 1, 2010 at 8:26 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, May 1, 2010 at 8:26 a.m.

CLINTON, Ark. — Several tornadoes that ripped through central Arkansas killed at least one person and injured two dozen others, officials said as they braced for another round of severe weather Saturday.

Debris was being cleared and damage assessed as day broke in Van Buren County, about 75 miles north of Little Rock, where authorities said at least one person died in the Friday night storms. A sheriff's department dispatcher said details about the death were expected to be released later Saturday.

At least two dozen other people were hurt across Van Buren and several other counties, state Department of Emergency Management spokeswoman Renee Preslar said. Officials in those counties referred questions to the state agency, but Preslar said local authorities who provide her with updates hadn't released details about the severity of the injuries.

More storms — including tornadoes — could hit the state Saturday, said meteorologist Brian Smith with the National Weather Service in Little Rock.

"We have a lot of warm air over the area, warm and moist air. The atmosphere has a very high amount of wind energy available and a lot of instability, and as the day gets warming, that's all we need," Smith said.

Search teams Friday night located a person believed missing in the wreckage of a home in Center Ridge, while extensive property damage was reported across central Arkansas, Preslar said.

Tornado sightings were reported just a few miles north in Culpepper, according to Arkansas State Police. A sheriff's dispatcher said a sighting also was reported in the Oakland area, near the Missouri border.

Trees and power lines blocked major roadways in both areas.

John Robinson, warning coordinator meteorologist with the NWS in Little Rock, said a slow-moving front from the west touched off the severe weather Friday.

"We had spotty thunderstorms here and there, and those are the ones — the ones that sit out there by themselves — that end up being tornado producers," he said, noting Arkansas' tornado season generally peaks in April.

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