On This Day in AR Weather History: March 8

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – On March 8, 1909 a tornado outbreak occurred across the state of Arkansas.

The state saw tornadoes spawn from southwest to east central Arkansas. In total, 61 lives were claimed from this severe weather event.

According to data from the National Weather Service, seven tornadoes were confirmed from March 8, 1909. More about the tornado ratings and locations effected, below.

Number of F2 tornadoes: 5

  • A short tracked tornado formed in northern Clark County (near Arkadelphia) and traveled into southern Garland county.
  • A short tracked tornado formed in northwest Cleveland county and traveled into southern Grant County.
  • A tornado formed in south central Lonoke County and traveled into central Prairie County.
  • A long tracked tornado formed in Garland County and traveled through Saline and Pulaski County before lifting just shy of the Lonoke County border.
  • A long tracked tornado formed in southern Grant county and traveled through northwest Jefferson, southern Lonoke and southern Prairie County.

Number of F3 tornadoes: 1

  • A tornado formed in northwest Ouachita County and traveled into northeast Dallas County.

Number of F4 tornadoes: 1

  • A tornado formed in northern Monroe County and traveled into southwest St. Francis County.

The hardest hit areas included Sheridan (F2 tornado) and Brinkley (F4 tornado).

The NWS used the F scale prior to 2007 when the Enhanced Fujita Scale was introduced. The F scale was based on damage intensity and not wind speeds. The speeds listed below are estimated based on the amount of damage recorded.

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Credit: National Weather Service

An excerpt from Arkansas’s Climatological Data of March 1909 notes that over 800 buildings were completely destroyed from the F4 tornado that struck Brinkley, and almost 2,000 building were partially destroyed.

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Arkansas Climatological Data of March 1909. Credit: National Weather Service, Little Rock

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