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13 years later: A look back at Arkansas’ longest tracked tornado

The tornadoes that affected Region 8 during the Super Tuesday outbreak
The tornadoes that affected Region 8 during the Super Tuesday outbreak(KAIT)
Updated: Feb. 5, 2021 at 3:31 PM CST
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - On February 5, 2008, many people headed to the polls for the 2008 primary election, including in Arkansas, but many sheltered for their lives due to a tornado outbreak.

That outbreak resulted in the longest tracked tornado in Arkansas history.

The 122-mile-long EF-4 tornado’s track started in Yell County near the community of Centerville and tracked to the northeast.

One EF-4 tornado stayed on the ground for 122 miles.
One EF-4 tornado stayed on the ground for 122 miles.(KAIT-TV)

Chief Meteorologist Ryan Vaughan was on the air for hours tracking the storms.

Towns like Atkins and Clinton, which are outside of Region 8, were hit by the tornado. EF-4 damage was recorded in Clinton when the storm moved through.

The tornado continued northeast into Stone County where EF-2 and EF-3 damage was found in the southern part of the county.

The tornado would move into Mountain View, where more EF-4 damage was found. The Stone County Medical Center was damaged in the storm, along with other buildings on Main Street.

The storm flattened a Mountain View car dealership and slammed into the local hospital.
The storm flattened a Mountain View car dealership and slammed into the local hospital.(KAIT-TV)

That included a car dealership across from the hospital. The National Weather Service said the cars were thrown around like toys.

One person was killed in Mountain View due to the storm.

The tornado continued northeast, across the White River into Izard County. EF-3 damage was found north of Highway 69, east of Melbourne.

Two people died in Izard County.

The storm then tracked into Sharp County, causing EF-2 damage on the east side of Ash Flat. It would then move through the business district on Highway 62/412 in Highland, destroying several businesses and the town’s fire station.

In Highland, the storm destroyed the town’s fire department and leveled dozens of businesses...
In Highland, the storm destroyed the town’s fire department and leveled dozens of businesses along Highway 412.(KAIT-TV)

The tornado would finally lift south of the Spring River, just southeast of Hardy.

Thirteen people died due to that tornado in Arkansas.

A separate EF-2 tornado touched down in Marion County, south of Flippin, crossing into Baxter County, destroying homes in Gassville. One person died in Gassville from that tornado.

Smaller EF-0 and EF-1 tornadoes were recorded in White, Randolph, St. Francis, Ripley, and Butler counties.

In all, 14 people died in Arkansas that day from the tornadoes. The majority were killed by the long-tracked tornado.

The National Weather Service in Little Rock said it was the deadliest severe weather event in the state since the March 1, 1997 tornado that killed 25 people.

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