NWS says EF-1 tornado slams city of Tyronza

Charging centers, food available to those affected by storms
Updated: Oct. 22, 2019 at 4:00 AM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The National Weather Service says an EF-1 tornado slammed into the city of Tyronza in the early morning hours Monday.

The storm hit around 6 a.m. Monday, Oct. 21.

According to NWS, peak winds were estimated to 105 miles per hour. The tornado was on the ground for 1.15 miles and the maximum width was 125 yards.

NWS said the tornado was not on the ground long. The report said straight line wind damage surrounded the tornado.

As crews work to clear the debris, the city of Tyronza says food and water are available for those affected by the storms.

Shortly before noon, the city posted on social media that they have generators running at the city hall and the senior center. Anyone who needs to charge their cell phones can go to these locations.

The city also has food and water available at the senior center for anyone in town who needs it.

City officials have set a 9 p.m. curfew Monday night in the town and extra officials while be monitoring the area to make sure there is no looting.

“I have 24-hour patrol, police around the town so we can definitely watch the store and houses that need to watch so we won’t have any looting going on,” Tyronza Police Chief Tony Postell said.

The city has generators running at its city hall and senior center.
The city has generators running at its city hall and senior center.(KAIT-TV)

Several people were taken to the hospital after the tornado tore through town.

Sheriff Kevin Molder said several buildings were “blown away,” including a Valero station near the school.

Drone footage of EF-1 tornado damage at Tyronza, Ark.

The National Weather Service reported five people were injured when the storm hit, two were from the collapse of the Valero gas station and store.

The elementary school, which is located near the store, also suffered damage.

East Poinsett County School District Superintendent Micky Pierce said the roof of the school was damaged and it could take upwards of a month before it is repaired.

Molder had a message for storm chasers and rubberneckers: Stay out of Tyronza.

“Don’t go looking for damage,” he said. “We have trees and powerlines down all across town.”

All of the streets of Tyronza were shut down, Fire Chief David Woods told Region 8 News.

“We got hit hard” he said, shortly after the storms tore through. “We don’t know how hard yet.”

He asked everyone to “stay off the streets” until they can clear the scene.

“It’s a disaster for this town,” Poinsett County Judge Bob Cantrell said. “It’s a small community.”

Cantrell said he had been in contact with Governor Asa Hutchinson who offered his support.

As cleanup began Monday, residents were thankful for the help they have received.

“It got real, real, rough here last night,” resident Billy Hood said.

He said his daughter came in to help and is glad crews are working to get the city back up and going.

Phillip and Olivia Burch awoke Monday morning to the sound of glass breaking and rain falling into their home.

“Hopefully it’s a once in a lifetime experience,” Phillip Burch said. “It’s crazy to be in something like this.”

Despite the damage, Tyronza Mayor Charles Glover said he's grateful for everyone who stepped up to the plate to help the community.

“It has just been tremendous. I can’t tell you everybody that has helped us out and they’re still coming,” Glover said. “And they’ll be back at seven in the morning to do the same thing.”

Mayor Glover said the storm damaged 84 buildings and displaced seven families.

The city plans to burn the debris left behind by the tornado. It is a plan that has been approved by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.

As of 5 p.m., Matt Faries, customer service manager with Entergy, told Region 8 News power outages in Walnut Ridge are down to around 300 customers in the Tyronza area.

Most of the customers without power should have power restored on Tuesday.

Faries said 18 power poles were down in Tyronza and another 12 were down outside of town.

There were 25 linemen in the area Monday and Entergy expects to have 45 crew members on the scene to restore power on Tuesday.

Just before 6 a.m., the NWS issued a tornado warning for Poinsett and Mississippi Counties. At the height of the storm, a tractor-trailer rig overturned on Interstate 555 near Tyronza, according to an Arkansas State Police dispatch officer.

Drone footage of EF-1 tornado damage at Tyronza, Ark. 10/21/19 provided by Clear Shot Productions (Steve Porchet)

More than 1,400 customers lost power after severe storms rolled through Region 8.

Tyronza was not the only Region 8 town to see damage from Monday’s storms.

The National Weather Service reported a tree down in Monette in Craighead County.

A dispatch officer for Independence County told Region 8 News they received a few reports of “trees down on a few county roads.”

“We got off pretty light,” a Lawrence County dispatch officer told us.

The storms also brought heavy rains and lightning to parts of Randolph County, including Pocahontas.

The Tyronza tornado is the sixth tornado to touchdown in Region 8 in 2019.

On May 2, three tornadoes touched down in Region 8, all EF-0s. Those tornadoes were near Swifton, northeast of Lafe, and near Gosnell.

On May 29, an EF-0 tornado was recorded south of Ravenden Springs.

Then on August 9, an EF-0 touchdown down north of Delaplaine.

That brings us to Monday’s tornado which was rated an EF-1 in Tyronza.

Monday morning's severe weather brought heavy rains and lightning to much of Region 8, including Pocahontas.

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