Current Watches and Warnings
Public Information Statement
Statement as of 4:40 PM CDT on July 25, 2014
... Damage survey information for the July 23rd event...
Widespread damaging winds occurred in western Arkansas and extreme
eastern Oklahoma on Wednesday the 23rd of July. The National Weather
Service investigated two areas of damage in western Arkansas to determine
if tornadoes were involved.
The event was complex with damaging winds on a large scale, combined with
the development of several circulation areas aloft. Additionally there was
one documented gustnado.
The conclusion of the analysis is that no tornadoes touched down in western
Arkansas on Wednesday.
The damage in the Chaffee crossing and Fort Chaffee area appeared to be a
mix of large-scale storms winds, a microburst, and possibly a gustnado. The
majority of the damage was laid out from northwest to southeast and generally
in-line with the overall wind pattern. A video snip on social media does
appear to show a gustnado in the vicinity of Fort Chaffee. No damage could
be directly associated with this, but it could explain a couple of occurrences
of damage not exactly aligned with the rest. The microburst occurred to the
left of a circulation area aloft that was observed on the nearby Fort Smith
WSR-88D radar. The circulation itself never appeared to attain a tornadic
strength. It is likely that the circulation played a role in accelerating
the winds in The Fort Chaffee area, but the ground survey could not
conclusively determine that a circulation of tornadic organization occurred.
The peak wind in The Fort Chaffee area was estimated between 70 and 85 mph.
Numerous buildings suffered damage in the area with debris impacts, broken
windows, and some loss of roofing material. Several power poles were
damaged. A few trees were also damaged but the overall impact to nearby trees
was rather limited. Two buildings were destroyed at Chaffee crossing. An
inspection of the buildings suggest that winds from the northwest were able
to enter the buildings and resulted in more extensive damages to these
structures as compared to adjacent buildings.
The area just west of Ozark along Highway 64 was also investigated. Trees
were damaged, as were a few homes. One home suffered significant damage as the
upper section of a wall was blown in. The overall weather situation was
the same as that around Fort Chaffee. Roads did not lead to a few areas where
the survey team would have liked to seen. What could be seen was characterized
by damage laid out from northwest to southeast. The survey team could not
conclusively identify any tornado damage in this area.
As a Point of clarification, a gustnado is a vortex on the ground that
is the result of strong winds. Gustnadoes are broadly similar in concept
to the swirls seen along a Highway as vehicles move by and disturb the
air. Gustnadoes do not extend into a thunderstorm and therefore technically
do not qualify to be called a true tornado. However, gustnadoes can locally
enhance damage and will be seen as swirling debris.
Thanks to the media in western Arkansas for forwarding information from
social media and for providing information during the survey process.
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