Tornadoes damaged parts of Arkansas Friday, March 31, 2023. The number of twisters produced from the storms is up to five, bringing the total count to 18 so far this year. An additional tornado was confirmed from early Wednesday morning at 5:50am, April 5th, near Weathers in Madison County from NWS Tulsa.
The Pulaski County/Lonoke County tornado was rated an EF3 with estimated peak wind of 165mph, which is the strongest an EF3 tornado can be. An EF3 is 136-165mph, with an EF4 at 166-200mph. The path length was 600 yards.
The last time a tornado of that strength tracked through Little Rock was January 1999.
Supercell thunderstorms developed Friday afternoon. The first tornado warning was issued after noon in Garland County. No tornadoes were confirmed out of the storm near Hot Springs, but it continued tracking northeast toward Pulaski County.
The Pulaski County tornado started at 2:18pm southwest of Colonel Glenn Road and Marsh Road in Martindale. It uprooted trees and caused roof damage as it tracked northeast toward Kanis Road near Hartford Street in west Little Rock, south of Costco. It ended at 2:58pm southeast of Cabot between Highway 321 and Campground Road in Lonoke County.
The tornado was on the ground for 34.4 miles for 40 minutes. The average tornado is on the ground 5-10 minutes for one to two miles.
From west Little Rock, the tornado rapidly intensified over Chenal Parkway, damaging apartment buildings off Napa Valley Drive.
Homes were destroyed west of north Shackleford Road along Jamestown Drive and Cobble Hill Road.
Colony West shopping center off Rodney Parham sustained major damage after the tornado crossed I-430.
The tornado damaged the Kroger in Colony West and many homes surrounding it.
Hundreds of trees were uprooted within the tornado’s path between I-430 and Cantrell Road. It then crossed Cantrell Road near Foxcroft Road.
After snapping and uprooting trees and damaging homes in the Foxcroft and River Ridge neighborhoods, the tornado tracked into Cammack Village.
It then tore through Burns Park in North Little Rock, crossing I-40 just west of exit 150 (the Burns Park exit) and Military Drive. Hundreds to thousands of trees were snapped and uprooted north and south of I-40 around Burns Park. It caused damage to the baseball fields and tennis courts.
The tornado crossed over MacArthur Drive near Military Drive and the intersection of Amboy. A tornado emergency had already been issued by this time at 2:28pm, and NWS Little Rock had to move to their safe place. NWS Memphis took control during this time.
Homes were damaged in Indian Hills in North Little Rock. Rooves were torn off houses as the tornado tracked farther northeast along Flintrock Road near Osage Drive. Below are some images taken by reporter Neale Zeringue.
The tornado continued northeast over North Hills Boulevard, with less severe damage noted there. It then crossed over JFK Boulevard near Club Road, heading through Sherwood. It continued along Lee Avenue, causing more damage off Kiehl Avenue.
More damage was noted near Northgate Drive and Woodridge Lane. An apartment building’s roof was ripped off on Calloway Avenue as the tornado made its way over Indianhead Lake.
The tornado then cross near the 67 & I-440 Interchange before heading over 67 near Redmond Road.
The tornado seemed to strengthen as it damaged homes and businesses along Stone Street, McHenry Street, Eastview Drive and south 1st Street. A church was destroyed on North Elm Street south of Graham Road.
It passed over the Holland Bottoms State Wildlife area west of Kerr Station Road then tracked into the Parnell Community.
The tornado caused damage in southeast Cabot to homes and trees there before finally lifting between Highway 321 and Campground Road.
The results of this survey from NWS Little Rock are still preliminary as of April 7, 2023. There was one death in Pulaski County from March 31, 2023 with an estimated 54 injuries.