Winds, Hail, Tornadoes Move into Region 8

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A tornado touched down in downtown Atkins this afternoon, as high winds blew and hail fell as a set of strong thunderstorms rolled through Arkansas.

Region 8 News has received unconfirmed reports of property damage to the hospital in Mountain View, and has a crew enroute to Mountain View at this time.  Meanwhile, law enforcement in Sharp County also reports storm damage to at least four to five houses along Highway 354 east of Ash Flat.  The Region 8 StormTEAM also reports that U.S. 167 south of Ash Flat has been closed due to downed trees and power lines, and other debris in the roadway.

Renee Preslar, a spokeswoman for the Ark. Dept. of Emergency Management, says the tornado touched down near Highways 324 and 105, then stayed on the ground and passed into Conway County to the east.

Trained spotters reported a tornado on the ground near the Conway-Van Buren county line shortly after the tornado was reported at Atkins.  Preslar says local officials were trying to assess damage from the tornado.

Spotters also reported seeing a tornado near Gassville and Wonderville in north-central Arkansas.  Initial radio traffic from Baxter County sheriff's deputies said several people were injured in Gassville, as well as debris and "houses" blocking Highway 62 through the center of town.  The injuries could not be confirmed.

An Arkansas State Police dispatcher says multiple car crashes slowed traffic on Interstate 40 near Atkins to a crawl.  A tractor-trailer rig reportedly blew over in an eastbound lane of the interstate between Atkins and Blackwell.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)